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Dispute Over State-Funded Health Insurance for Children

Legislators say the law won't allow them to spend more than $400 million in federal funds, but parents say they're tired of excuses.

Kim Williamson got off welfare and got a job to support her two children, but she makes less than $15,000 a year at a non-profit agency, and can't afford health insurance. She worries her family is just one emergency away from financial ruin.

“Because if they get sick, I can't afford to go out and do it on my own as far as medical bills,” says parent Kim Williamson.

Kim's children are among nearly 100,000 kids on a waiting list for Kid Care, the state's program for uninsured children. Lawmakers didn't put enough money into the program to begin with, then this week a legislative committee said the law also prevents them from using a $400 million windfall from the feds.

Child advocates are sick of excuses.

“If we can't do it, well, let's find a different way. The excuses don't heal wounds. There are kids out there who are suffering,” says child advocate Conni Wells.

Democrats including Loranne Ausley say they've been fighting for Kid Care, but so far it hasn't helped.

"What does the legislature need to do to fix this problem. Well that's a good question but whatever it is, we need to do it," says Loranne Ausley, (D) Tallahassee.

Lawmakers on the legislative committee say the whole legislature or the governor need to act if there's going to be more money for Kid Care.

We decided to start at the top. We asked the governor what he plans to do about the crisis. Kim Williamson is just praying her kids don't get sick while she waits for folks at the capitol to figure out a solution.

Republican leaders in the house have pledged to make children's healthcare among their top priorities during the legislative session that begins in March. By then, the waiting list for Kid Care could swell to about 115,000 children.


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