Florida Chamber of Commerce

House and Senate Seek to Flatten Fiscal Cliffs in Response to Florida Chamber Foundation Research

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Sarah Katherine Massey during the 2023 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In

By: Sarah Katherine Massey, Director of Talent, Education & Quality of Life Policy, Florida Chamber of Commerce

This session, the Florida House and Senate have made progress in addressing recommendations included in the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Less Poverty, More Prosperity: The Florida Fiscal Cliffs Report, especially for families with young children. For many families in Florida, a marginal wage increase can result in substantial losses to public benefits.

The Florida Healthy Kids Program, also known as Kidcare, allows for the purchase of subsidized health insurance for uninsured children in low-income households. In 2021, Florida Healthy Kids served 145,247 children ages 5-18. Currently, the program is limited to families at 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, or $60,000 for a family of four. These current eligibility requirements have a steep drop-off in benefits, disincentivizing economic self-sufficiency.

HB 121 by Representative Robin Bartleman and SB 246 by Senator Alexis Calatayud increases the income eligibility threshold for coverage under the Florida Kidcare program through a phased-in approach to address fiscal cliffs many families face as they climb up the economic ladder, so they do not have to choose between health care coverage for their children and a paycheck. Reducing these fiscal cliffs is one of the many strategies to meet the Florida 2030 Blueprint goal of cutting childhood poverty in half. HB 121 received unanimous passage off the House floor, and a Senate Floor vote is expected later this week

Senator Alexis Calatayud has highlighted the importance of supporting Florida’s families when presenting SB 246. During a committee hearing, she noted that “a Florida Chamber study indicates up to 30% of employees are turning down promotions in the state of Florida because of this and similar social benefit fiscal cliffs. With this policy, we can help families afford to accept and pursue promotions, continue their climb of upward mobility without a dramatic, negative impact to their household budget.” Under HB 121 and SB 246, the Kidcare eligibility threshold is increased from 200% to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, with premium tiers based on household income. The phased-in approach taken by HB 121/SB 246 creates a glidepath for families rather than a cliff, ultimately incentivizing upward mobility.

To learn more about how this effort could impact the path to prosperity, feel free to contact me directly at 850-545-0543 or smassey@flchamber.com.

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