Update: Health and Human Services Department spokesman Fabien Levy called the Florida directive “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.”
From our friends at Health News Florida: The Florida Department of Health has become the latest arm of state government to distance itself from the federal Affordable Care Act. It has ordered county health units not to allow outreach workers called Navigators onto their property to help uninsured people sign up for subsidized health coverage.
The order from C.Meade Grigg, deputy DOH secretary for statewide services, went out late Monday to the 60 local health department directors around the state. He wrote that the staff may accept informational materials from the Navigators to hand out upon request.
“However, Navigators will not conduct activities on the grounds of the health departments,” Grigg wrote. He said the policy was developed after some had asked DOH for permission to operate within state facilities, presumably because uninsured people often seek treatment there.
Both the Miami-Dade and Broward Departments of Health declined to comment on the prohibition, referring Florida Healthwatch to the state office, which issued a short pro-forma letter in response.
Judy Clauser, special projects director of Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, a Doral-based group that received a $637,686 federal navigator grant, was surprised to learn about the Health Department's prohibition.
"I don't think it will keep us from doing our work," Clauser said. "We're partnering with community organizations like Catalyst Miami and Sant La in Little Haiti to reach the uninsured where they live." Read more.