Individual counties in Florida are resisting Gov. Rick Scott’s ban on a program designed to help Americans better understand their options under the Affordable Care Act.
The Republican governor issued an order earlier this month to bar “navigators” trained to help people sign up for health insurance in Florida. The order, sent out to 60 local health department directors across the state, instructed counties to refuse counselors who attempted to reach out to citizens with guidance on enrolling in insurance under the Affordable Care Act due to “privacy concerns.”
But that argument is a “smokescreen,” said Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs on MSNBC Wednesday.
“Everyone knows that once the people have this kind of health care available to them, the dignity that comes with going to the doctor when you need to—they like it. They’re not going to give it up. And that’s this last push: it’s to try to scare everybody, use whatever tactics you can to get people to not enroll so they can point their fingers back and say, ‘This is not successful,’” Jacobs said.
Jacobs explained that the state of Florida does not own every building across the Sunshine State, and that the majority of the health facilities in Broward County are owned by the county itself. “Our attitude was, ‘Well, you can’t tell us what to do in our own facilities’…We do have control over who enters our buildings, and you sure aren’t going to tell us who we’re going to ban.”
When reached for comment, Scott’s office deferred to the Florida Dept. of Health, which responded: “In an unprecedented move, the Broward County commission today rejected the Department of Health’s guidance to protect patient privacy and ensure patient confidentiality in county departments.”
Jacobs dismissed the accusation. “[Gov. Scott] has tried time and again to do what he could to stop the progress of people learning what they need to learn about the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “The ‘issues over privacy’ statement is ironic because the state has its own set of navigators that help people through the process, whether it’s Medicaid, kid care, veteran’s services…Additionally, the state passed laws just this last legislative session that set up a series of requirements for navigators themselves, things they would want them to do.”
She added, “Anyone who sits down with [navigators] can be assured they have had adequate training and the information that is shared goes straight into a database and is not at risk.”
Broward County, which contains 31 cities, is just one of the Florida counties defying the governor’s order. Both Pinellas County and Miami-Dade, Florida’s most populous county and the state’s second-highest uninsured population, have also announced they will allow navigators to assist residents in enrolling for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.