Gov. Scott does his best to make Obamacare unnavigable
Conspiracy theories regarding healthcare “navigators” prove tough to refute
Published: September 18, 2013
AMOUNT THE STATE OF FLORIDA RECEIVED IN FEDERAL GRANTS FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES IN 2009
AMOUNT HHS IS POURING INTO THE STATE TO FUND THE NAVIGATOR PROGRAM DESIGNED TO ASSIST THE UNINSURED WITH FINDING INSURANCE COVERAGE ON THE FEDERAL MARKETPLACE AFTER OCT. 1
NUMBER OF UNINSURED RESIDENTS IN FLORIDA
“LIKE SIMILAR REQUESTS FROM ORGANIZATIONS SEEKING ACCESS TO WORK INSIDE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS IN THE PAST, [THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH’S] POLICY REMAINS CONSISTENT THAT OUR STAFF MAY ACCEPT THE ORGANIZATION’S MATERIALS AND FORWARD ANY REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO THAT ENTITY. HOWEVER, NAVIGATORS WILL NOT CONDUCT ACTIVITIES ON THE GROUNDS OF HEALTH DEPARTMENTS.”
– DEPUTY DOH SECRETARY FOR STATEWIDE SERVICES C. MEADE GRIGG
SOURCES: Orange County Department of Health, Health News Florida, Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research
It’s a good thing that hypocrisy isn’t a flesh-eating disease, because the Florida Department of Health would likely be seeking some substantial bone cover after last week’s unexpected dive into bacterial politics. By now the whole state is aware that Gov. Rick Scott and anyone attached to his administrative tentacles are hell-bent on drowning the state’s uninsured in a rhetorical pool of states’ rights and drummed-up conspiracy theories about Obamacare. Them so-called “Navigators” hired by the federal government to “educate” the uninsured better get piss tests, because by Scott’s (and Attorney General Pam Bondi’s) wisdom, the whole thing is a ploy for identity theft by miscreants. You hear that, grandma?
But, while we’re used to hearing the nasty playground shouts from our elected nightmares, we weren’t expecting the typically silent Florida DOH to weigh in. That agency, we thought, was too busy actually helping the state’s 3.8 million uninsured residents to maintain some level of modest health, tending to epidemiology concerns and fighting STDs. Nope. On Sept. 9, DOH heavyweight C. Meade Grigg sent out a memo to the county health departments instructing them to basically ignore – and flat-out prohibit – the presence of Navigators on health department premises. In other words (once again with feeling), Obamacare isn’t happening (here).
“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,” DOH communications director Nathan Dunn wrote in the email delivering Grigg’s letter. Never mind that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly gone on record refuting this. Never mind that there is no magical database. Cue further HHS outrage.
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