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Affordable coverage stays out of reach for Floridians least able to pay for it. During his 2014 campaign, Governor Scott reaffirmed his support for closing the coverage gap, noting that he would sign a bill to accept funding, should one reach his desk. Newly reelected, he should throw his weight behind closing the coverage gap, and build a coalition of conservative and liberal politicians to provide access to affordable health coverage for all Floridians, but so far that does not seem to be a plan.

Florida lawmakers who returned to the Capitol to take their oath of office for the 2015 legislative session are gearing up for yet another battle over the health coverage gap. With support from leadership, both sides could be spared a lengthy and contentious debate and craft a solution to fit Florida’s needs, but Governor Scott does not seem to be so eager.

Since Florida decided to reject federal funding to setup Medicaid Expansion, low-income adults who would have been covered through Medicaid cannot afford health insurance. These individuals don’t make enough money to qualify for tax credits intended for middle-income people. Here is an example. In many states that have expanded Medicaid a 21-year-old with an annual income of $12,000 could qualify for tax credits to buy a plan for just $20 a month. If that person makes $11,000 per year or less, he or she should qualify for free coverage.

But in Florida: nearly one million Floridians fall into this health coverage gap.

Florida’s failure to act hits young adults, ages 18 to 34, extremely hard. More than one-third of young Floridians in the health coverage gap are young adults. That’s no surprise considering that one in four Floridians aged 18 to 34 live in poverty. Millennials are trapped in a super storm of economic risk–they’re facing rapidly rising tuition costs, high rates of unemployment and consequently, and they have a tough time affording medical bills. Given that Millennials end up in the emergency room more than any other age group, except the elderly.

 

chris_jones
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