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HHS criticizes Florida over latest 'navigators' dustup

Health News Florida reported Wednesday that the Florida Department of Health barred county health departments from allowing outreach workers called Navigators onto their property to help uninsured people sign up for subsidized health coverage.

As that story made the rounds, we heard from an official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which continues to have strong reaction as Florida leaders continue to resist the law.

HHS spokesman Fabien Levy:

"This is 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. . Despite the state’s attempts, we are confident that Navigators will still be able to help Floridians enroll in quality, affordable health coverage when open enrollment begins on October 1."

And now we have a statement from Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, part of the House Democrats leadership team:

“I am deeply disappointed to learn that the Florida Department of Health intends to prevent county health departments from allowing outreach workers known as Navigators onto their properties. This action seems shortsighted and out of touch with the needs of the millions of Floridians without health insurance.

"Thus far, I’ve seen no good justification for this mandate from Governor Scott's administration. I'm sure that many other Floridians share my skepticism and are hopeful that this order will be reversed.

"As those of us who have health coverage recognize, there are many complexities to health insurance. Reliable consumer information provided by the Navigators will help Floridians learn about their options for obtaining reasonably priced health coverage. When making decisions about health care for their families, consumers deserve the unbiased and trustworthy information that Navigators can provide."

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