KIDCARE STOPS ENROLLMENT/PARENTS REACT-Andrew Stelzer07/02/04
Kidcare, the state run health care program that provides free medical insurance for more than 350 thousand children low-income parents, eliminated its open enrollment process yesterday, and changed the rules so that no one can put their children on the waiting list until January of 2005. The program serves people who do not qualify for Medicare, but still have incomes of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. For parents like Jeff, the announcement came as a big surprise, and has thrown his life into turmoil.
In march, Governor Bush enrolled 90,000 new children in the kidcare program, Using federal money sent to Florida; the enrollment cleared out the waiting list that had built up since the program began 15 years ago--But now no new children are being accepted, and the waiting list has ceased to exist. The enrollment regulations have also been made much more strict, and under new rules, if a parent forgets to reenroll every 6 months, the child will be kicked off the health care plan. FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s program had been a national model, until the last few years when Republican legislators began claiming that the restrictions had to be tightened because it was growing too big. But Parents like Alexandria Shelk of St Petersburg point out that the programs growth shows how many parents cant afford the rising cost of health care, evidence that it is needed more than ever.
Free clinic around the state, which already have waiting lists for doctors appointments, will soon be seeing an influx of thousands of kids who now will have to wait at least until January to get on the states plan. Many of these are children have working parents who cant afford health insurance for their kids even while they are working full time. Moses tells the story of his daughter and her child.
Parents with incomes low enough for Medicaid can still apply. For more information go to www.kidcare.org, or call 1-800-540-5437