Florida: No ObamaCare 'Navigators' Allowed in County Health Clinics
Florida state officials have barred ObamaCare navigators from showing up at county health departments. Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty met in August to discuss privacy issues surrounding the $54 million dollar government program.
After concluding Florida citizens shouldn't be giving sensitive information to people who know little or nothing about insurance coverage, Deputy Health Secretary C. Meade Grigg issued the order to 60 health departments across the state. Clinic employees can hand out brochures to consumers but only if requested. From the Insurance Commissioner:
"It remains to be seen whether the information that people will provide to give navigators assistance is safe," McCarty said. "The information given by applicants will be shared by the Health and Human Services and other federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration, Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service."
Jeremy Funk of Citizens United for Change, advocating for the Affordable Care Act, was outraged that Commissioner McCarty would deny access to healthcare enrollment to "thousands of people who die every year" because they don't have insurance.
Contrary to Gov. Scott's statements, consumers will never be asked to provide their personal health information to the marketplace, whether through a navigator or not. There is no such database of American's health information, and multiple independent fact checkers have debunked this claim.
Peters, while stating citizens will not be asked for personal health records, failed to mention whether they would be required to provide financial information. Florida has the most significant level of identity theft complaints in the country, with nearly twice the per capita rate of the next highest state. Understandably, the State has requested the navigators go through a background check, be fingerprinted, issued a picture ID, and be covered by a liability insurance policy.
The potential for navigators to end up on YouTube videos, engaging in all kinds of illegal crazy schemes a la ACORN, appears to be very real to state officials worried about fraud.
After 20 or 30 hours of mandated training, patient navigators are supposed to be able to "maintain expertise in eligibility, enrollment, and program specifications and conduct public education activities to raise awareness about the Exchange." Another requirement of the estimated $20-$48 an hour job will be to "provide information in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate to the needs of the population being served." How can this be possible with such minimal training requirements?
Florida's officials, like other state leaders, are naturally skeptical of ill-equipped ObamaCare counselors acting like insurance brokers. Nevertheless, the federal government is still hiring and training navigators. They must first pass an exam, and then undergo a state-required background check. After that, they will have to educate and direct 3.8 million people toward the right insurance plan.
Predictably, liberals are up in arms at the audacity of Florida's lawmakers who want to protect their residents from misinformation as well as identity theft. Leah Barber-Heinz, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group and navigator partner Florida CHAIN (Community Health Action Information Network) said the Sunshine state's ban is "disappointing and unnecessary," and "It makes no sense to deny local health departments the ability to provide navigator services to uninsured people who need help signing up." The nonprofit group received $125,000 to advertise, coordinate and carry out enrollment fairs in Central Florida and eight other regions of the state.
What really makes no sense is doling out $54 million in grants to these groups when online sites are already set up for the uninsured to find out about healthcare exchanges. Health insurance providers also have the information on their sites. If the resident does not have a computer, he or she can go to the nearest library. Survey after survey has shown the majority of Americans, not just Floridians, can explain ObamCare for free -- it's a horrific, job-killing mess.
Federal health officials and Democrat politicians are feeling the heat with the launch date for the exchanges set at October 1. They continue to insist, even after this summer's IRS and NSA scandals, applicant information is not stored in a database and IRS personnel will not have access to private health information or immigration status. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman, D-FL ...rebuked Governor Scott for his obstructionist order. "Time to end the political theatrics," she said, "and work on implementation."
Florida has every right to limit the reach of pseudo-insurance agents. Politicians like Wasserman would like everybody to just shut up and take their progressive medicine.