In Florida, half a million children have no health insurance. And according to a recently released report from the University of Minnesota, that means that out of the Southern states, Florida has the highest proportion of children lacking coverage. A press conference today at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa aims to remedy that by promoting the state-run children’s medical insurance program called KidCare. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales reports.

ACT: One time one of them had a high fever and broke out in a strange rash… decided to ride it out… co-payments high… if flu goes through family could wipe you out…

Until recently Tampa mother of three Mia Dorton said she lived in constant fear. When one of her children fell ill she had to make the unfortunate choice of either taking him to see a doctor or putting food on the table. Most of the time she says she rode it out, hoping it never got too serious.

She had heard of KidCare, Florida’s health insurance program for young people under 19, but she thought it was just for those living in poverty.


She spoke at a press conference at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa with the hope of getting the word out to other parents who may be in a similar situation.

US Congressman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis made an appearance today. He shared a sad tale about a youngster in South Florida.

ACT: elementary school wearing dentures…

Hillsborough County Commissoner and congressional hopeful Kathy Castor has strong ties to the KidCare program. Her mother, Betty Castor, helped craft the program as former governor Lawton Chiles’ education commissioner. Under the Clinton administration the program became nationwide. But, Castor, warned, the state insurance is under threat from under-enrollment.

ACT: Congress about to reauthorize program… money could go to other states…

St. Joseph’s medical services director Dr Daniel Plasencia said he and other doctors at the hospital have seen firsthand the dangers of not being able to afford healthcare.

ACT: by not coming in early enough it could be a more serious problem…

So, who qualifies for KidCare? Well, youth under 19 with no health insurance. And you cannot be the child of a state employee that is eligible for family coverage. Also, there are income requirements that must be met.

Tampa mother Mia Dorton said enrolling in KidCare changed her life.

ACT: I filled out the application… 20 dollars month co-payments for all three children… revolutionized our lives.

Applications for KidCare can be filled out online or through the mail. For more information go to healthykids.org or call 888 540 5437.

For WMNF News at St Josephs Children’s Hospital in Tampa, I’m Roxanne Escobales.

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