People flocked to Florida and Texas for a lower cost of living during the pandemic. Some were shocked when their healthcare got way more expensive. : politics

Wisteria Davis was a student at Delaware Technical Community College when the coronavirus pandemic hit and upended lives across the country. By November, she and her girlfriend had decided to leave Newark, Delaware, to live in a larger city with more options for their education. …

They moved in with her girlfriend’s family in Orlando, Florida. But for Davis, who has a history of several health conditions, the move came with a catch she hadn’t expected.

Soon after she arrived in her new home in the Sunshine State, she was devastated to learn she wouldn’t be able to enroll in Medicaid as she had in Delaware, she said.

Florida, like 11 other states, hasn’t expanded Medicaid, a government health-insurance program that pays for healthcare for people with little or no income in most states. …

Healthcare navigators tasked with helping people enroll for health insurance in states like Florida, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina have for years had to break the difficult news both to current and new residents.

“That’s one scenario that I just ran into so often: people who came from New York or wherever it is and find out for the first time when they’re sitting there with you that there’s really not a whole lot of help here for you in the state, even if you’re working,” Scott Darius, a former navigator who is now the executive director of the advocacy group Florida Voices for Health, told Insider. “And that was a devastating conversation to have. It never got less devastating to have that talk.” …

Before the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid worked very differently from state to state. But it generally paid for care for people with disabilities, pregnancies and childbirth, children, and nursing homes.

It still pays for those services and more under the ACA. In most states, people can sign up for Medicaid if they make less than $17,774 a year. People earning the minimum wage qualify, as do students with little income, people who’ve given up their jobs to become full-time caregivers, people who choose not to work, or people who have lost medical coverage after losing a job during the pandemic.

But the coverage isn’t available in every state because several red states sued against the law in 2010. In response, a 2012 Supreme Court ruling made the decision to expand Medicaid optional in each state.

As a result of that decision, 12 states haven’t expanded Medicaid. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies healthcare, estimated that this decision had resulted in 2.2 million people in the US falling into the same uninsured gap as Davis does.

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