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Estero family says loss of Medicaid coverage is "life threatening"

As Florida does not expand Medicaid coverage, family speaks out
Posted at 2:20 PM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 16:23:01-05

ESTERO, Fla. — The federal poverty line is $31,200 for a family of 4. Alisanne Colkitt stays at home with her two boys and her husband provides for the family. He brings home $22 more than the monthly cutoff to qualify for Medicaid after a small raise this year.

"All I want to do is take care of my kids," Colkitt said.

She says her youngest son is considered medically needy, has had multiple hospitalizations over a breathing condition, and needs to be on special, expensive formula. Both of her children are on the autism spectrum, and she says her concern is how a loss of coverage would lead impact her oldest son's access to coverage.

"I think that's a parents worst fear, is not being able to help your kid... like that helpless feeling," she said.

Colkitt worries about regression if her children cannot continue with their therapists and says she advocates for other children like hers with organizations like Autism Collier.

"He's [her older son] been in therapy since he was 18 months old. So everything that we've worked for and that they've taught him in those 5 years, he'll start to lose," she says.

Colkitt claims it's hard to reach a person when calling for DCF paperwork clarification. She says only one of her children was specified to lose coverage and she was on hold for multiple hours on different occasions when calling to find out why.

The Department of Children and Families responded to our questions with this statement:

The Medicaid redetermination process is simply setting a normal process back in place to ensure those accessing a safety net program in our state are those who truly qualify. Many Floridians’ circumstances have improved since the pause of redeterminations and with a thriving economy and low unemployment rate, it should be expected that families in a stronger financial situation would no longer be eligible. Florida’s robust communication strategy resulted in a current response rate of 83%, a significant increase over the 47% pre-pandemic rate.

It is important to know that safeguards are in place if a recipient believes they were inaccurately disenrolled - they can contact the Department to appeal the case. Coverage is reinstated during this review if the hearing is requested before coverage ends, or retroactively applied if the appeal concludes with a reinstatement of benefits. Further, any individual who has a pending redetermination application with the Department will maintain their coverage until an eligibility determination is made.

Through investments into call center staffing and the creation of a dedicated line for Medicaid redeterminations, there are wait times of less than 3 minutes. Individuals can access the Medicaid-only line by calling the Department’s Customer Call Center and selecting the appropriate option. Individuals can also utilize a chatbot that is available in English, Spanish, and Creole to answer any questions or visit a storefront to speak to an individual in person.