The Florida Department of Health is facing questions over whether it removed thousands of the state’s sickest children from a special Medicaid program as a political favor to Republican party insurance industry donors.
According to a CNN report, the state switched more than 13,000 children from a special Medicaid program called Children’s Medical Services (CMS) that covered that most serious, chronic health conditions. CMS is a public program. The state moved children to Medicaid programs that are run by private insurance companies. Most of those companies have donated millions of dollars to the Florida Republican Party over the years. Republicans control the legislature and the state house.
Questionable Health Survey
The state department of health removed the children from the public program in 2015 after conducting a telephone survey of parents and guardians those enrolled. Critics say the state designed the survey to justify switching the families to the privately run insurance programs. One question was “Is your child limited or prevented in any way in his or her ability to do the things most children of the same age can do?” The problem is that many children function relatively normally only because of the healthcare they get with CMS. There was no way to explain that in the survey, though, and many children were disqualified as a result.
Due to the switch, children with special health care needs in Florida lost coverage. State officials say that there was no lapse on coverage for any child. However, the CNN report featured several children who were denied treatment. They had conditions resulting from birth defects, as well as diabetes, blindness, and HIV.
Pediatricians from around the state say that they raised objections when the state was developing the plan. They say that state officials ignored their concerns. The state has stopped using the survey, and says that children can reapply to CMS.