George, a 56 year old truck driver and native of Pennsylvania moved to Florida in 2019 to be closer to his daughter. He had suffered heart problems in the past and hoped that the move to Florida would decrease his stress levels.
Unfortunately, in late January of 2020, George suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. The paperwork for his Medicaid coverage was filed in February.
In Florida, Medicaid eligibility cannot begin for people who are disabled until the month that the application is submitted. Prior to 2018, this was not the case because Florida, like most states, had a critical protection called Retroactive Medicaid Eligibility (RME) which allowed for coverage of medical bills incurred before the month of application. This is a critical protection because the medical bills for someone like George, who suffers a serious life threatening emergency, begin RIGHT AWAY, while their Medicaid application might be filed later.
RME ensured that individuals like George, and the providers who take care of them, are not left on the hook for bills they cannot pay. No one knows when an emergency will happen. Because his Medicaid application had not been submitted during the month of his hospitalization, George received a bill for the entire amount, $62,000. Instead of being able to recover in peace and focus on his health, George is under tremendous pressure. “I’ve been stressing out because all these bills keep coming in” and the hospital is left with more uncompensated care.