By Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Thousands of immigrant children living legally in Florida may soon get access to subsidized healthcare.

The Florida House voted unanimously Thursday to make children of legal immigrants immediately eligible for Florida Kidcare. Florida Kidcare includes both Medicaid and a subsidized children’s health insurance program.

There’s currently a five-year waiting period.

The bill (HB 89) includes nearly $29 million to pay for the subsidized health care.

Republican sponsor Rep. Jose Felix Diaz of Miami estimates approximately 17,000 children will become eligible for coverage if it becomes law. The legislation heads to the Florida Senate which is considering a similar measure.

The House vote was significant because House Republicans have been staunch opponents of expanding Medicaid as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Some have called Medicaid a failed program.

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