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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – After lawmakers scuttled the idea last year, a Senate committee has backed a proposal to help immigrant children get health coverage in the KidCare program.

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The Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously approved a bill, sponsored by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, that would eliminate a five-year waiting period for “lawfully residing” immigrant children to get health care through the subsidized insurance program.

The bill would not apply to children who are undocumented immigrants.

“I think the key word is ‘lawfully residing’ children in our state,” committee Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, said.

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The Health Policy Committee also approved last year’s version of the bill, which then stalled.

Groups such as the Florida Hospital Association, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops and Florida Legal Services expressed support Tuesday for this year’s bill. Backers say, in part, it would provide coverage that would help keep children from going to emergency rooms for costly care.

“I think this bill is long overdue,” Garcia said.

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The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.