The state of Florida issued a directive late Monday prohibiting the so-called Obamacare navigators from working on the premises of county health departments.
Deputy Health Secretary C. Meade Grigg issued the order to Florida’s 60 local health department directors, according to the Miami Herald.
Although Grigg didn’t comment, agency spokeswoman Ashley Carr said the order’s purpose was to promote “clarity” and “a consistent message” across the agency.
“Navigators are not acting on behalf of the Department of Health and this program has raised privacy concerns due to the consumer information that will be gathered for use in a federal database,” Carr said in a statement.
At least one person was elated. Heather Ann Searfoss tweeted:
— Heather Ann Searfoss (@searfoss70) September 12, 2013
Health and Human Services Department spokesman Fabien Levy blasted the directive, calling it “another blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate groups who will be working to inform Americans about their new health insurance options and help them enroll in coverage, just like Medicare counselors have been doing for years.”
The Affordable Care Act navigator program has been heavily criticized by conservatives for its excessive costs, paltry attempts at vetting and inadequate training of the program’s applicants.
But states like Florida, with laws in place to ensure certain restrictions are placed on navigators, are heavily criticized by liberals for attempting to ‘block’ or ‘hinder’ Obamacare enrollment.
Without such restrictions, navigators will be privy to our most personal medical and financial information because in an effort to save time in rolling out the program, the Obama administration will not require navigators to undergo any background checks, Investors.com reported.
The Investors.com article also noted that all the navigators will have assistants, who won’t be vetted or properly trained either, yet they’ll be privy to the same personal information.
Each navigator and assistant will be paid $20 to $48 an hour, according to The Washington Post.
The training, vetting and privacy concerns were aired at a Cabinet meeting in August attended by Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.
“It remains to be seen whether the information that people will provide to give navigators assistance is safe,” the Miami Herald reported McCarty as saying. “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.”
Coverage under the Affordable Care Act is scheduled go into effect Jan 1.