State Politics

Lawmakers could agree on KidCare

MANATEE — During the recently concluded Florida Legislative session, members of the House and Senate mustered a rare unanimity to streamline Florida KidCare, a state health insurance program for uninsured children younger than 19.

There was not a dissenting voice in either house, when senators and representatives passed Senate Bill 918.

Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said making improvements to KidCare was one of his top priorities, not just this session, but for the past three years.

Changes to the bill were intended to help keep children from dropping out of the program when their age or eligibility changes.

It allows electronic verification of family income. It would decrease the time that a child is disenrolled for a missed premium from 60 to 30 days. It would also increase the “good cause” reasons families can use to voluntarily cancel coverage and be eligible for KidCare without a waiting period, according to the News Service of Florida

“We achieved a great success this session,” Galvano said. “We were able to reform the program so a significant amount of children could be covered.”

“The reformed process takes away administrative barriers and money goes into real medical care,” Galvano said.

Florida KidCare includes four different programs: MediKids, Healthy Kids, Children’s Medical Services and Medicaid. When anyone applies for the insurance, Florida KidCare will check which program the child may be eligible for based on age and family income, according to the Florida KidCare Web site, www.floridakidcare.org.

The program covers doctor visits, check-ups and shots, hospital stays, surgery, prescriptions and emergencies.

It also covers hearing and vision, and dental care.

“I would think that it would help a lot of family out for being eligible without a gap in coverage,” said Dr. George Van Buren, a pediatrician who practices at Manatee Memorial Hospital, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Manatee Rural Health Services.

“I take care of recipients and they seem to be pretty pleased with the program,” Van Buren said. “Sometime im the past it takes them awhile to get accepted. If they miss a premium, they may not know it until after the fact and they have been dropped.”

Luz Corcuera, program director or Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County, said she had been following efforts to streamline the bill.

“I am so glad that it has passed without major problems,” Corcuera said. “Bill Galvano has been a champion for children’s well being in general.”

She said that she would like to see more extensive outreach in the community, because many families find it difficult to find information online.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 708-7908. Jim Jones, East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 739-3550.

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