Thursday, December 30, 2010

Capital Soup: Thanks To Legislative Dallying, Florida set to lose hundreds of millions

December 29, 2010
More Florida Republican family values?

TALLAHASSEE – The Sunshine State not only ranks at the top for unemployment and foreclosures, it’s also at the top for forgetting its children.

Thanks to legislative inaction last year, the state is poised once again to forfeit tens of millions of dollars from the federal government set aside for enrolling uninsured children in the popular KidCare program – a federal/state health care program for which parents pay a nominal fee.

“It’s appalling to me that the Legislature is allowing millions in tax dollars – Florida’s tax dollars we sent to Washington – to slip through our fingers,” said Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich (D-Weston).

“Our state already ranked 49th in the country in the number of uninsured children, and that was before the unemployment disaster and housing fiasco. How much more do our children have to suffer?”

Rich called Calls Republican inaction a “penny wise, pound foolish” waste of tax dollars.

Legislation sponsored last year by Senator Rich that would have brought Florida into federal guidelines that qualify the state for additional federal dollars available for more than 700,000 uninsured children.

According to the Florida Child Healthcare Coalition, KidCare could have benefited from a generous increase in federal match under the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act.

There were also performance bonuses created under the measure for states that streamline enrollment.

But because SB 2082. the bill Rich sponsored, was never passed, Florida doesn't meet the federal criteria that would streamline enrollment of uninsured children in the CHIP/Kidcare programs.

As a result, the state is currently barred from even competing for the bonuses. Meanwhile, other states which launched aggressive efforts to target and enroll uninsured children will reap the $206 million bounty . . .

Neighboring Alabama, with an unemployment rate at 9% – three points lower than Florida’s staggering 12% – is poised to receive $55 million under CHIP.

No comments: