At Florida’s Medicaid call center, long and discriminatory delays prevent eligible families from keeping their health care


Woman at call center taking a call and checking details online.

Between April and June, the State of Florida terminated Medicaid for more than 400,000 people, most of whom were probably children.

More than half of them were terminated for “procedural” reasons, usually because the state did not get the information it requested from families. These children and families may have been eligible, as far as the state knows.

One contributing factor to these bureaucratic terminations of eligible children is that parents often cannot reach the state’s Medicaid call center to renew their children’s coverage. UnidosUS staff made 40 “secret shopper” calls during late July and early August, at multiple times each day of the week.

Following are our key findings:

  •  To reach a human being at Florida’s Medicaid call center,
    • The average English-language caller had to wait 36 minutes, while
    • The average Spanish-language caller had to wait nearly two and a half hours—four times the wait imposed on the average English-language caller.
  • The longest delay experienced by any English-language caller involved a 50-minute wait–less than half the wait experienced by the average Spanish-language caller.
  • Almost a third of all Spanish-language calls were disconnected before the caller reached a human being (30%). By contrast, only 10% of English-language calls were disconnected.

Two-thirds of all Florida children now rely on Medicaid for their health care. The state’s leaders should prioritize protecting these children’s future by making sure none lose health care if they still qualify for help. It is shocking that the state has not used its resources to ensure that parents calling to renew their children’s health care can do so during a typical 30-minute lunch break at work. The state has a $20 billion budget surplus, and lawmakers just spent nearly $3 billion of that surplus on tax cuts. We call on Florida to invest the money needed to make its call center quickly accessible to all Medicaid families, regardless of the language they speak.


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