The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) supports actions that help make the state a place where families can build healthy futures and where workers and businesses can thrive. The bills highlighted below are at the top of the REIT’s priority list for the 2022 legislative session.
SUPPORT: Extend Medicaid to all low-income adults (HB 27/SB 1504)
Florida is one of 12 states that has not extended its Medicaid program to adults ages 19 to 64 whose income is below 138% of the federal poverty level. (For reference, that equates to $17,774 for a single person and $30,305 for a family of three.) Medicaid expansion would help nearly 800,000 uninsured Floridians access affordable health care, which which is particularly critical in the context of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
The REIT supports HB 27/SB 1504, legislation sponsored by Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) and Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami) that would expand the state’s Medicaid program to all lower-income adults 138% of the poverty line.
Additionally, the US House has included in the Build Back Better Act federal funding to close the health care coverage gap through 2025 for people whose income is below the poverty level. There are currently 425,000 Floridians in this “coverage gap” who would benefit from this provision. (As of this blog posting, the legislation is still awaiting Senate action..)
??SUPPORT: Using a data-driven approach to reduce health care disparities (HB 855/SB 1258)
Disparities in health and health care in the United States put certain groups at higher risk of having more limited access to care, receiving lower quality care, and ultimately less good health outcomes. It also makes health care more expensive for everyone by leading to excess health care costs, estimated at $93 billion per year.
Florida’s Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program (SMMC) offers a valuable opportunity to reduce health disparities and unnecessary costs. More than 3 million beneficiaries are enrolled in the program. When it created the SMMC, the Florida Legislature recognized that health plan performance measures are a key tool for assessing quality of care. Current law requires the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to collect from health plans and publicly publish performance measurement data. The AHCA reports that the quality of healthcare provided under the SMMC is steadily increasing, as evidenced by improved performance measures. However, Florida law does not require the AHCA to collect and report this data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, primary language, gender, or disability. Experts agree that collecting this data is an essential first step in developing targeted strategies to eliminate disparities. Additionally, it will help ensure greater transparency of the $23 billion annual public investment in the Medicaid managed care program.
The REIT supports HB 855/SB 1258, legislation sponsored by Rep. Robin Bartleman (D-Weston), Rep. Nick Duran (D-Miami) and Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-Miami) that would require the AHCA to report on Medicaid managed performance measures of quality of care disaggregated by race, ethnicity, native language, gender and disability.
SUPPORT: Reduce barriers to professional licensing for returning citizens (HB 87 and SB 1118)
Florida law prohibits people with certain criminal offenses in their history from obtaining professional licenses, and professional licensing boards can largely consider criminal history in licensing decisions through “goodwill” provisions. morality”. This creates an arbitrary barrier for returning citizens to access dozens of professions, increasing both financial insecurity and recidivism.
The REIT supports HB 87, legislation sponsored by Reps. Kevin Chambliss (D-Homestead) and Scott Plakon (R-Longwood), as well as SB 1118, legislation sponsored by Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), which would help reform Florida’s burdensome professional licensing system.
Specifically, these bills:
- shorten the period from five to two years during which licenses can be refused, for certain professions, only on the basis of a previous criminal conviction;
- remove “good character” as a disqualifying criterion for certain types of professional licenses; and
- create a pipeline program that allows applicable licensing boards to approve credits applicants have received from Department of Corrections educational programs to count toward licensing education requirements .
SUPPORT: Lifting of ban on some returning citizens receiving SNAP and TANF (HB 7069/SB 762)
People who return to their communities after being incarcerated face enormous obstacles to financial stability. Yet despite an overwhelming need for basic support to help with rehabilitation, state law prohibits Floridians who have been convicted of drug trafficking from participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). This short-term lifetime ban impacts their ability to meet basic needs, such as food and shelter, and increases their likelihood of reoffending and returning to prison.
The FPI supports the Food Safety and Back-to-School Act (HB 7069/SB 762), legislation sponsored by Rep. Vance Aloupis (R-Miami), Rep. Travis McCurdy (D-Orlando), Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez ( R-Doral), and Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami) who would remove the draconian lifetime ban on SNAP and TANF benefits for formerly incarcerated Floridians with prior drug trafficking convictions.
SUPPORT: Tax Refund for Working Floridians (HB 613/SB 234)
The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is already one of the nation’s most effective tools for reducing poverty and addressing income inequality. In 2019, more than 2.1 million Floridians received $2.9 billion through the federal EITC, with the average credit amount being $2,492. The federal EITC is a sensible tax relief that helps low-income people make ends meet, which benefits their families, communities and local economies.
Thirty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and localities such as New York and Montgomery County, Maryland, have enacted their own versions of the EITC to build on the success of the federal EITC.
The REIT supports HB 613/SB 234, legislation sponsored by Representative Felicia Simone Robinson (D-Miami Gardens) and Senator Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens) that would implement the Working Floridians Tax Rebate (WFTR), an EITC at the state level set at 20% of the federal credit. A recent REIT report found that the WFTR would benefit 2.1 million low-to-moderate income Floridians and provide an average annual rebate of $500.
CONS: Automatic corporate tax refund and rate reduction
Over the past two years, policymakers have cut corporate income tax (CIT), costing the state billions. The last time policymakers voted to raise corporate taxes was in 1984. In contrast, policymakers passed a bill in 2018 that created an automatic downward adjustment to the corporate tax rate. corporation tax if net collections exceeded planned collections. The same bill directed the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) to refund excess collections. The bill had an immediate impact: CIT collections exceeded forecasts for the 2018-2019 tax year, and the CIT rate therefore increased from 5.5% to 4.458%, and the DOR had to issue $543.2 million in refunds to businesses by May 1, 2020.
In 2019, policymakers extended the automatic rate adjustment and refund mechanisms for two years. No downward adjustments or refunds were triggered for the 2019-2020 tax year due to reduced CIT collections in the context of COVID-19. However, for the 2020-2021 tax year, collections exceeded forecasts, such that the DOR is expected to distribute $624 million in refunds to businesses by May 1, 2022. Although these mechanisms expired on January 1, 2022, they have already cost Floridians about $2 billion through the CIT rate cut and refunds. Fortunately, policymakers have not passed any legislation to extend the automatic adjustment and reimbursement in the 2021 session. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether new adjustments will be introduced in the 2022 session.
FPI will oppose any legislation extending the mechanisms for regularization and reimbursement of corporate tax downwards.