Civil rights groups file federal discrimination complaint against Florida over Medicaid redeterminations

The nation's largest Latino civil rights organization, UnidosUS, along with 12 other state and national organizations, have filed a complaint with the HHS Office of Civil Rights regarding what they say is Florida's "illegal discrimination" under the Civil Rights Act against families and children of color amid the state's Medicaid redetermination process.

In the letter, the groups allege that certain state actions have prevented continued Medicaid coverage for eligible Latino, Black and immigrant beneficiaries, including maintaining a state Medicaid website that is not accessible by smartphone, call center wait times exceeding two hours on average for Spanish-language callers, and allowing limited participation in the redetermination process for community organizations.

"The state has a $20 billion budget surplus, nearly $3 billion of which lawmakers recently used for tax cuts," the groups wrote. "A small fraction of the remainder would suffice to retain a contractor who can make the Medicaid website accessible to smartphones; to hire enough call center staff that parents can easily get help, regardless of the language they speak; and to replicate training videos in languages other than English. These problems' persistence speaks to the state's priorities."

The groups filing the complaint include the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, Florida Health Justice Project, Florida Policy Institute, Hispanic Federation, Hispanic Services Council, Housing Education Alliance, Latino Leadership, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Immigration Law Center, Protect Our Care, State Innovation Exchange Action, Equal Ground, MomsRising/MamásConPoder, and UnidosUS.

More than 5 million people have been disenrolled from Medicaid through the unwinding of the COVID-19 public health emergency, reaching 5.5 million as of Aug. 29. More than 74 percent of those disenrollments have been for procedural reasons, according to data from KFF.

Two families filed a proposed class-action lawsuit Aug. 22, accusing Florida of terminating their Medicaid coverage without proper notice or a chance to contest the decision. 

Over a dozen states have excessive wait times for Medicaid call centers or high rates of call abandonment, according to CMS. 

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