Health navigators questioned

Politicians raising privacy concerns


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott and state cabinet members are raising privacy concerns over the new health care act, but experts say there are bigger problems.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius went to Tampa last week to announce that cash for the state is intended to move forward on Federal Health Care reform.

"(It) will help local individuals and families apply for coverage," said Sebelius.

A letter from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and 12 other Republican attorney generals, raised questions about training for the new navigators. Bondi vocalized the concerns at a state cabinet meeting Tuesday.

"Are they going to be fingerprinted? Are they going to get background checks? Here's why that is important," said Bondi. "They are going to have access to your tax information."

Bondi was joined by the governor who asked pointed questions of the state insurance commissioner.

"Do you think you could actually train somebody to do this job in 20 hours?" asked Scott. "Ah, no, no."

Progress Florida believes there are political motivations behind the criticism.

"They are going to face severe criminal penalties if they violate any people's privacy, so I really think what we are seeing here is just more politics," said Damien Filier of Progress Florida.

Experts say that the biggest fear of people violating your privacy isn't help navigators, but people who email you or call you on the phone asking for information."

AARP says consumers need to exercise basic caution.

"Do you own research, because chances are the person who is calling and asking for that sensitive information is not on the up and up," said Leslie Spencer of AARP Florida.

Training for navigators was cut from 30 hours to 20 in an effort to get the program up and running by October.

Florida organizations that are receiving federal funding to serve as health navigators:

  • University of South Florida (Florida Covering Kids & Families): $4,213,696
  • Epilepsy Foundation of Florida: $637,686
  • Advanced Patient Advocacy, LLC*: $413,152.20
  • Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc.: $446,783
  • Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners: $600,000
  • National Hispanic Council on Aging*: $646,825.50
  • Cardon Healthcare Network, LLC DBA Cardon Outreach*: $238,000
  • Mental Health America*: $683,691