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More Funding Needed To Sustain Florida Medicaid Enrollment Surge, Advocate Says

a red notebook on a desk with a pen, glasses and stethoscope.

Unprecedented job loss due to the coronavirus means that more people across the country have enrolled in the nation's largest health care insurance safety net program.

Florida's Medicaid enrollment increased by nearly 5 percent in April and about 3 1/2 percent in May.

Anne Swerlick with the Florida Policy Institute said the rising enrollment by itself isn't something to be concerned about.

“I think it shows that the Medicaid program in Florida is doing exactly what it was set up to do. And that's to be a safety net program,” she said.

“So, when times are bad economically, enrollment will expand to meet the need and when better economic times arrive, the enrollment will contract. So it’s truly a lifeline for families when the economy is down.”

But Swerlick said the program needs more money to sustain that growth.

"We're going to need some more help at the federal level to preserve the program, and we need it urgently."

The National Governors Association recently asked Congress for a 12% increase in Medicaid funding to states, similar to the funds many states received under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The more recent Families First Coronavirus Response Act did increase Medicaid dollars to states by 6 percent but Swerlick said this falls short of what states will need in the long term.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.