While DeSantis Campaigns in New Hampshire, Thousands in Florida are Losing Health Coverage

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, is officially on the campaign trail for presidency, adopting a provocative stance against what he terms the “malignant ideology” of the left and “the woke mob”. With promises to mold the rest of the U.S. in the image of his “free state of Florida”, his attention appears to be squarely on conservative concerns. However, one recent development in Florida cries out for some attention.

Over recent weeks, a considerable number of Floridians, around a quarter of a million, have found themselves stripped of their Medicaid health insurance coverage. And this figure is only set to grow as more Medicaid beneficiaries in Florida face the loss of their coverage, with many likely to become completely uninsured.

This predicament is significantly linked to the policy decisions made by DeSantis and his administration, revealing a lot about his governance and values. This predicament could provide some insight into what his presidency might entail.

The Conclusion of a Crisis-Era Provision

The unfolding situation in Florida forms part of a broader picture seen nationwide, as the federal government draws the curtains on the final COVID-19 emergency measures. Medicaid, a health insurance program for low-income Americans funded by a combination of state and federal contributions, was one of the areas of focus.

Each state oversees the administration of Medicaid within its jurisdiction, with some states offering relatively smooth enrollment and others creating more hurdles. As the COVID-19 relief measures are phased out, states are starting to conduct their usual verification and reenrollment procedures. While some states are making significant efforts to minimize coverage losses, others are doing the exact opposite.

The Medicaid Rollback in Florida

Florida falls into the latter category, having recently reported that nearly 250,000 residents had their Medicaid coverage canceled after just a few weeks of record reviews. That’s a rate of more than half of all the Medicaid cases examined by the state.

Health care advocates in Florida have been apprehensive about this situation, urging a slow and thorough approach to redeterminations. As the initial figures become public, pleas have been made to the state administration to pause the process, improve notification procedures, and boost staffing levels at the agency handling the cases.

However, DeSantis, known for his opposition to government health care plans due to concerns about cost, waste, and perceived interference with free market dynamics, has shown no inclination to make changes. He voted for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a House member in 2017 and has refused to support the ACA’s Medicaid expansion for Florida as governor. This decision is a primary factor behind the state having the fourth-highest rate of uninsured citizens in the country.

Despite the ongoing issue of Medicaid coverage loss in Florida, DeSantis has yet to publicly address the matter. As he continues to campaign, however, he may eventually face more pointed questioning about this issue. How he would approach government health care programs, such as Medicaid, as president will be crucial for voters to understand.

Insights into a Potential DeSantis Administration

As governor of Florida, DeSantis has shown a clear preference for conservative strategies when it comes to healthcare. He has consistently voiced the belief that government healthcare programs are not only too costly and inefficient, but they also hamper the free market and dampen personal initiative.

His track record exemplifies these beliefs. Back in 2017, when he was serving in the House, he supported attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a signature healthcare reform of the Obama administration. As governor, he has continuously opposed the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA in Florida, which is a significant reason why more than one in every ten Floridians lacks health insurance, making Florida the fourth most uninsured state in the nation.

The implications of his beliefs and actions are apparent in how his administration has approached the issue of Medicaid redeterminations in the state. Instead of easing the process or extending the coverage, Florida has taken a somewhat aggressive stance, leading to a high rate of coverage cancellations.

The crux of the problem lies in the administrative processes, where paperwork errors or procedural issues have led to a majority of the disenrollments. The situation suggests that many people who still qualify for Medicaid are losing their coverage simply because they are unable to navigate the bureaucratic labyrinth.

The consequences of this policy are expected to be severe. It is likely that many of those who lose their Medicaid coverage will become entirely uninsured, as they would not be able to afford private insurance or qualify for other public programs. This issue highlights the very real stakes of healthcare policy – it is about more than budgets and ideology; it is about people’s access to healthcare and, ultimately, their health and wellbeing.

Despite the severity of the situation and the pleas of health advocates and legislators, DeSantis’s administration has shown little inclination to change their approach or address the issue. His silence on the matter raises questions about what his approach to healthcare policy would be if he were to become president.

Throughout his campaign, DeSantis has been surrounded by supportive crowds and friendly interviewers, but as the race continues, he is likely to face more critical questioning and scrutiny. It will be vital for voters to understand his stance on healthcare policy and the implications of his approach. His handling of Medicaid in Florida provides a clear insight into his priorities and values and may well foreshadow his approach to healthcare on a national level.

In the light of a presidential campaign, DeSantis’s actions, or lack thereof, towards the large-scale Medicaid disenrollment in Florida paints an illustrative picture of what his national leadership may look like. Especially in matters of public health policy, a realm that not only calls for extensive federal resource allocation but is also a lifeline for many low-income individuals and families.

With Florida leading the nation in disenrollments, it raises serious questions about the potential impacts on the uninsured population in the state and also highlights the challenges in accessing healthcare for the most vulnerable. The experiences of other states that have taken more supportive stances towards Medicaid enrollees contrast sharply with Florida’s policy, showcasing the options for reducing coverage loss that the DeSantis administration has chosen not to utilize.

DeSantis’s administration has defended their Medicaid procedures, asserting they are careful and thorough, despite the unprecedented rate of coverage loss. The calls from health advocates and political opponents for a more compassionate approach to redetermination have gone unheeded. As such, the situation in Florida is not simply a reflection of the ending of the pandemic policy but is also indicative of the state’s underlying health care policy.

As DeSantis continues his campaign trail, the issue of these Medicaid disenrollments is likely to loom large. While the governor enjoys support from many conservative circles, his actions on healthcare may well become a point of contention, even within his own party. This issue provides a case study into his decision-making and leadership style and presents voters with clear evidence of how his political philosophies translate into policy action.

The unfolding situation offers voters insights into how a potential DeSantis presidency could approach and handle health care policy at a national level. While he currently enjoys the comfort of friendly audiences and supportive interviewers, more rigorous questioning awaits him as the campaign progresses. Questions about his healthcare policies, in particular, the dramatic Medicaid disenrollments under his administration, are likely to feature prominently. As voters, this is a critical opportunity to critically examine and understand DeSantis’s approach to governance and public health.

Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at realtor.com, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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