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"We wait for hours on end" Families losing Medicaid speak on DCF call wait times

"It's about an hour and a half to two hours if you can even get through to the place where they let you hold," one mother said.
Posted at 10:54 PM, Mar 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 22:54:37-04

ESTERO, Fla. — Nicole Malmquist's son has autism. He's 5 years old and had been on Medicaid until that coverage lapsed in late 2023. It happened because his family began making too much money.

"It's been a really difficult time since he lost Medicaid," Malmquist said.

Now the family pays hundreds of dollars every week for his therapy she says teachers her son how to socially behave.

"I understood why he was being dropped, because of the income barrier, but I called them to find out if there were any other options, any way that we could keep the medicaid but maybe pay for it," she said.

Malmquist says the Department of Children and Families told over the phone that wasn't an option and she's also frustrated for another reason.

She says the wait time to reach a person at the DCF is far too long.

"It's about an hour and a half to two hours if you can even get through to the place where they let you hold," she said.

Her story is not unique...

Two weeks ago, FOX 4 first reported on this issue and interviewed a different mother of an autistic child. Her name is Alisanne Colkitt.

"When their phone lines are actually working, which is very rare, you'll usually get a message that will say our phone lines are having difficulty right now. I want to say that's about 99% of the time," Colkitt said.

However, the DCF says otherwise.

"The wait times are often less than three minutes," a representative with The Department of Children and Families said.

Colkitt and Malmquist say it's never been that short for them.

"When you have severe disabilities, such as autism, these early interventions, and therapies are extremely important for their growth and development for them to eventually become functioning adults," Malmquist said.