Wed, Sep 13, 2023 5:02 PM
By Andrew Powell, The Center Square
Several civil rights groups filed a complaint Tuesday with the federal government, alleging Florida discriminates against minorities by disproportionately dropping them from Medicaid after eligibility reviews.
UnidosUS — the largest Latino civil rights organization in the nation — said it filed the complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Health and Human Services after publishing a report earlier this month that found more than 400,000 Floridians had lost their Medicaid coverage.
The organization said in a news release that underserved communities were disproportionately impacted.
In March, a 2020 rule that temporarily paused eligibility reviews of Medicaid recipients expired and states starting purging their Medicaid rolls of those who didn't meet the income requirements.
According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation's Medicaid Enrollment and Unwinding Tracker, Florida's Medicaid recipients declined 7% from April to July, shrinking from 5.78 million to 5.36 million.
In their complaint, UnidosUS alleges Florida has illegally discriminated against Latino, African American and immigrant families in its Medicaid redetermination process.
Also supporting the complaint were Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Florida Health Justice Project, Florida Policy Institute, Hispanic Services Council, Housing Education Alliance, Latino Leadership, National Immigration Law Center, Protect Our Care, State Innovation Exchange Action, Equal Ground and MomsRising/MamásConPoder.
The complaint states that Florida Medicaid violates Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination based on race or national origin by recipients of federal funds.
Jared Nordlund, UnidosUS Florida Director, stated in a press release that Florida should ensure all eligible children retain their Medicaid coverage.
"Floridians want their leaders to make sure our children grow up healthy and strong," Nordlund said in a statement. "With two-thirds of Florida's children relying on Medicaid for their health care, Florida should be leaving no stone unturned in making sure that all eligible children keep their health care."
Nordlund added that bureaucracy and red tape are preventing parents from being able to renew health coverage for their children.
According to the news release, barriers preventing underserved communities from verifying continued Medicaid cover include limited access to the Medicaid agency website, which can only be accessed by a computer; understaffed call centers lacking Spanish-speaking operators; and discriminatory community engagement.
Equal Ground Founder and Director Jasmine Burney-Clark said in a statement, that cutting children from their Medicaid cover is reckless.
"Upholding Title VI and equitable use of federal funds is vital for communities of color," Burney-Clark said. "This commitment ensures that every citizen, regardless of their background, has equal access to essential services and opportunities. To not prioritize children's health care at a time when Floridians are struggling to keep up with basic needs like housing and the cost of living is reckless, at best."