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"Navigators are nothing new," says Sen. Bill Nelson. Is he right?


Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has a message for Republican Gov. Rick Scott who doesn’t want Obamacare "navigators" spreading the word about the health care law, report oru friends at PolitiFact. "Relax. We’ve had similar folks helping Floridians navigate health care programs for many years."

"Scott has sought to ban Obamacare navigators from county health departments and has faced some blowback: Broward and Pinellas counties have refused to comply and Miami-Dade may follow their lead.

"Nelson portrayed Scott as a hypocrite because he said there are already similar navigators who help Floridians with questions about health insurance.

"Are there already similar navigators who help the public access health insurance and other services?"

PolitiFact went in search of the examples cited by Nelson.  Reporters found similar roles in Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for seniors, and Medicaid, which serves the poor. This year Florida received about $3 million from the feds to hire these workers. 

Florida has 463 SHINE volunteers, who perform a similar function, in that they help guide Floridians who need insurance. SHINE volunteers assist with questions about Medicare, and sometimes Medicaid if a client qualifies for both. Like Obamacare navigators, SHINE volunteers conduct outreach effort including a helpline and spreading the word at community events.

Florida’s KidCare health insurance program for poor children also does outreach to help families sign up for care. Statewide community events are one of the ways they do this. 

KidCare even uses the term "navigators," says PolitiFact. 

The University of South Florida’s Covering Kids and Families, which received an Obamacare navigator grant, has been doing outreach for enrollment for KidCare and Medicaid since 1999 with state, federal and foundation grants.

The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs also performs benefits counseling related to state and federal veterans’ programs. Paid claims examiners work out of VA medical centers, clinics and nursing homes to provide benefits counseling, connecting Floridians to disability payments and pensions. The counselors don’t enroll veterans in health care, but do point them in the right direction, PolitiFact says.

Net net: "There are differences in terms of some of the requirements and training to become an Obamacare navigator versus those who provide assistance for some of these other programs. However Nelson didn’t say they are identical: He said that we already have such ‘navigators’ to help Floridians access services.

We rate this claim True." Read the story.


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