Florida House, Senate agree to fund health care for immigrant kids
It looks like KidCare, a state program that provides health coverage for poor children, will be expanded to include legal immigrants.
House and Senate budget negotiators agreed Saturday afternoon to include $28.8 million to pay for the program's expansion, the subject of legislation (HB 89, SB 2508) that still hasn't passed votes in the two chambers.
But Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, the House's health care budget chairman, said he and other House leaders decided to fund the program's expansion. The money was already in the Senate's proposed budget.
The expansion language is part of a budget bill covering health care policy in the Senate, and a House bill is ready for a vote on the floor.
"We just figured it made sense to go ahead and close it out and make sure it was taken care of," he said.
Expanding KidCare is a priority for Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, who has pushed the change for years and is also the Senate's health budget chairman.
"It took a couple years but we got there ... We were able to get it done, so it's a good day," Garcia said.
Under current law, immigrant children must wait five years before being eligible for KidCare coverage.
Under current law, immigrant children must wait five years before being eligible for KidCare coverage. If the policy is changed, they would be eligible immediately, assuming they are in the country legally.