Thousands of Florida kids in Star Plus program to lose health care coverage

Robyn and Charley Matthew.
Robyn and Kyle Matthew and their 6-year-old son Charley.
Robyn and Kyle Matthews and their 6-year-old son Charley.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In just four days, thousands of kids will lose health care coverage that their families heavily rely on. Florida Healthy Kids is discontinuing its Star Plus program.

It’s a program the Matthews family desperately needs. Robyn and Kyle Matthews have a 6-year-old son named Charley. His parents call him magic.

“All Children’s saved his life ten times easily,” said Robyn.

He was born four months early and weighed less than two pounds. It took Charley four years to be able to walk.

“I keep on thinking back to how hard he worked and how excited he was to be able to walk,” said Robyn.

Physical therapy is what keeps Charley going, but it’s expensive.  Insurance wouldn’t cover it back in January and Charley stopped walking.

“He would get frustrated that even with his leg braces he was falling down and he would ask why he keeps falling down and would get a little defeated and then just asked us to carry him,” said Robyn.

Once insurance covered it again, Charley walked again.  But now, the state is taking away that insurance plan.

“To see that the state is supposed to have a plan that cares for those kids and we’re just told ‘sorry’,” said Kyle.

But, they can’t look at Charley and tell him “sorry you can’t walk.” The family is trying to figure it out but there’s no easy answer.

“We can go without other things, we can put it on a credit card or we can take additional work to make more money,” said Kyle.

The family has found another health care plan that would cover all of Charley’s therapies, but it will cost the family at least $1,200 a month.

Florida Healthy Kids posted this statement on their website after they announced they would no longer offer the Star Plus plan.

“While this was a difficult decision, Florida Healthy Kids remains committed to continuing the full-pay program. It is one-of-a-kind health insurance that is child-centered, including comprehensive medical, dental, and preventive services that children need at each stage of their growth and development.”

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