AMOUNT BEING AWARDED IN FEDERAL GRANTS BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO FUND FLORIDA’S “NAVIGATOR” PROGRAM, INTENDED TO CONNECT CURRENTLY UNINSURED RESIDENTS WITH THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT’S HEALTH CARE EXCHANGE
AMOUNT THE STATE OF FLORIDA SPENT ON A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT LEADING TO A DECISION IN FAVOR OF THE LAW (AND AGAINST FLORIDA) IN JUNE 2012. AS OF JULY 2012, THE SCOTT ADMINISTRATION HAD SPENT APPROXIMATELY $888,000 ON LEGAL FEES IN TOTAL
AMOUNT OF TRAINING TIME TO BE USED ON NEARLY 100 NAVIGATORS HIRED UNDER THE FEDERAL GRANT; THE TRAINING WAS ORIGINALLY TO BE 30 HOURS
“BECAUSE OF TIME CONSTRAINTS, HHS [IS] CUTTING BACK ON THE REQUIREMENT TO BECOME A NAVIGATOR, MEANING THEY’RE NOT GOING TO BE DOING BACKGROUND CHECKS. THEY’RE NOT GOING TO BE FINGERPRINTING THESE PEOPLE.”
– FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL PAM BONDI IN AN INTERVIEW WITH FOX NEWS
SOURCES: NPR, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting,
By now, we’re all hip to the lurching grudge match at play between Florida Republicans who believe that they can magically will the Affordable Care Act into disappearing dust before its January rollout and Democrats (also, the poor) who can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that leaving millions in federal money earmarked to make the Obamacare transition palatable – and, well, functional – is solid policy. If the past year were an episode of Intervention, surely we’d be beyond the denial stage at this point; the U.S. Supreme Court is the ultimate rehab facility on matters of misguided rhetoric, right? No more Kool-Aid for you. Obamacare is law.
Well, don’t wave your stinkin’ federal legality in the faces of Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott, because they are not having any of it. Last week, the same week Scott was once again denied his winsome court appeal to punitively piss-test state workers, the governor and Bondi decided it was high time to manufacture another crisis centering around the implementation of the new health care law: Obama’s little helpers are coming to get you! Or something.
If you’re keeping score, this is the one millionth time (totally official count) that the gruesome twosome has enacted this paranoid pantomime. So far their series of hyperbolic vignettes has cost us Medicaid expansion that would have allowed a million residents to get health coverage (hey, it’s just $50 billion), any oversight into how badly the insurance industry intends to rape a state that is pretending the ACA doesn’t exist, and whatever other accouterments were available to make this federal policy a reality in the Sunshine State. Now, with the health care exchanges opening in just over a month and the policy truly kicking in at the top of the year, we’re supposed to believe that the folks tasked by the federal government to assist those without insurance (and, to some degree, in the boonies and off the grid) in figuring out what their needs and benefits are – well, we’re supposed to believe that those folks are lying crooks out to steal your identity. The $67 million in grants to existing health advocacy groups to make these ACA “navigators” a reality – and the $7.8 million of that coming to Florida – it’s all clearly an attack on our personal freedoms. Follow the trail of doom projecting from Bondi’s eyes.
“And it’s more than navigators,” she fanned the flames on Fox News. “It’s people that assist the navigators. Now, these navigators will have our consumers throughout the country’s most personal and private information: tax return information, Social Security information. And our biggest fear, of course, is identity theft.”
Of course it is. So, with the clock winding down on the state’s Obamacare lark, the governor has chimed in as well, mouthing to his lapdog cabinet that “it is unclear how the federal government will prevent personal information from being stolen or otherwise misused,” according to NPR.
And, sure, there’s a little jeering coming from the Democratic camp of the “You did this to yourselves, obstructionists!” variety, but that’s just politics and not helping regular people. The reality is that, as with most grants falling under this kind of scrutiny, the HHS has already considered the process before signing the checks. Also, ever heard of Medicare? Yeah, that seems to work OK (and you can defraud it, Gov. Scott!). But if you need assurances, here’s the HHS line of thought on the Scott-Bondi pile-on.
“Contrary to Gov. Scott’s statements, consumers will never be asked to provide their personal health information to the marketplace,” HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters told Reuters. “There is no such database of Americans’ health information, and multiple independent fact-checkers have debunked this claim.”
Everybody freak out!