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Florida Cabinet Hypes Identity Thievery of Affordable Health Act “Navigators”

| August 21, 2013

Don't believe their hype. The Florida Cabinet, from left: Pam Bondi, Adam Putnam, Rick Scott and Jeff Atwater.

Don’t believe their hype. The Florida Cabinet, from left: Pam Bondi, Adam Putnam, Rick Scott and Jeff Atwater.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act say Florida officials’ concern about a program that will help uninsured people sign up for coverage has no foundation in fact.

There is no danger that so-called “navigators” will steal people’s identities or feed information into a giant federal database, said Greg Mellowe, policy director for the consumer group Florida CHAIN. The group is one of the non-profits that will get a share of federal grant money for the “navigator” program.

If the Cabinet had looked at the list of navigator grantees in Florida, “they would have seen that these are very familiar organizations with long track records of service to Floridians, particularly in the areas of promoting the interests of patients as well as outreach and enrollment,” Mellowe said. “These are not fly-by-night ‘identity thieves’ or whatever the implication was.”

During a Cabinet meeting Tuesday in Miami, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater all expressed concern about whether navigators will get the proper background checks and training. (See ‘Navigators Too Risky: Cabinet’)

Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, who gave a presentation, said he didn’t think it was possible for the navigators to learn enough in the 20 hours of training they will get. Originally, the training time had been scheduled at 30 hours, but was cut in the rush to get ready for the Oct. 1 opening of the online Marketplace.

McCarty recommended that uninsured people seek help from licensed insurance agents instead of navigators.

After the meeting, several supporters of Obamacare said Florida officials — all of whom are Republicans — were indulging in a bit of political hype and armchair quarterbacking.

Given that the state turned down the chance to create its own exchange and hire its own helpers, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called it “hypocrisy” for state officials to criticize the way the federal government is rolling out the online Marketplace.

“Because of their political obstinance, they forfeited their right to express those concerns,” the Weston Democrat said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

Gov. Rick Scott “has been hell-bent on obstructing the smooth implementation of Obamacare,” Wasserman Schultz told the Sentinel. “He’s done everything he can to block it and impede its implementation.”

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came to Tampa to announce $7.8 million in federal grants were going to Florida groups to find the uninsured and help them enroll in the online Marketplace. (See ‘Who’s In, Who’s Out?’)

–Carol Gentry, Health News Florida

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11 Responses for “Florida Cabinet Hypes Identity Thievery of Affordable Health Act “Navigators””

  1. A.S.F. says:

    Rick Scott, of Medicare Fraud fame, is SO concerned about theives who might be out to take advantage of the system and the people it serves…File it under “the pot calling the kettle black.” He has absolutely no shame!

  2. Nancy N. says:

    OMG these people will say and do anything to sabotage the ACA.

    • Ray Thorne says:

      And if they said nothing and it happens they’d get blamed for that too. To believe it can’t happen with today’s “professional” identity thieves is just naive.

  3. elaygee says:

    It’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
    Gov. Skeletor knows all about stealing from the health care system to the tune of $1.5 billion.
    Luckyily he had corporate “amnesia”, only his company was found guilty.

  4. Outsider says:

    Well, then go ahead and give your personal information to an unvetted “navigator.”

    • A.S.F. says:

      You do realize, Outsider, that most Doctors and all hospitals already use computer programs such as McKesson to store patients’ healthcare information? In fact, hospitals are under a mandate to employ such programs to better safeguard confidentiality and vital information necessary to patient care. In the past, information was stored in paper records and could easily be accessed or acidentally misplaced or destroyed. It happened to the VA when there a huge fire that destoyed millions of records that had to do with past service of Veterans and their service-related injuries. As a Social Worker, I had to help many Veterans and their family members who were trying to get the services they fought and sacrificed for and were being denied because their records no longer existed. You, obviously, use a computer in your everyday life. Why are they suddenly so bad and dangerous when applied to healthcare? This is just another excuse and distortion being employed to create a false sense of alarm, like Sarah Palin’s famous “death panels.” By all means, we should be diligent about building safeguards into any record-keeping we do. But we would be shooting ourselves in the figurative foot by using this as a self-created obstacle to moving ahead with healthcare reform.

  5. rhweir says:

    While I’m not against national health care, I am against the ACA. It’s based on the FPL, doesn’t address rate setting and cost controls. It is a poorly tossed together compromise that is for all intents and purposes, just another Medicaid expansion. In another words, it’s more welfare.

  6. Random Citizen says:

    Obama and his socialist friends are creating 200,000 new jobs that are not needed and you will be taxed heavily for their mistake.

    There are educated and licensed health insurance agents all across America already qualified to do this job.

    The health insurance industry is one of the most government regulated industries in America that need just a few very legitimate tweeks like guaranteed coverage and no cancellation to be the ideal solution for America.

    But what Obama wants is you, your children, and your grandchildren to be slaves not only to the IRS, Social Security, and Medicare. He wants you a slave to Obamacare while he signed laws that give him a better plan.

    And who are we kidding, Obama, the NSA, and the IRS are already listening to and watching everything we do.

    America is going crazy real fast.

  7. rhweir says:

    As I said, I don’t like the ACA. It’s a poorly thought out half baked compromise at best. As far worries of ID theft and related issues, they’ll just have them sign confidentiality agreements like DCF does to have people process welfare applications. It’s the same thing, just more welfare.

    • A.S.F. says:

      @rhweir–I guess if Rush Limbaugh and all those benevolent talking heads on FOX news say the word “welfare” enough times, Conservatives will squawk about it like parrots ad nauseum, even if they don’t really know what they’re talking about and have no constructive alternatives to put forward to address the serious problems and injustices that exist in our country.

  8. Sherry Epley says:

    Until President Obama managed to pass this health care package, we were the ONLY first world country without ANY comprehensive health care. Yes, it is greatly modified and cobbled together and still doesn’t get outrageously rising health care costs completely under control. . . BUT, BUT, BUT that is because the FOX Vombies of the GOP and some Democrats completely STOPPED anything better from being passed. In this case, “something is better than absolutely nothing”. Yes, the ACA needs to be improved. . . the question is whether the greedy, uncaring, brain trust of the GOP will allow it.

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