Reporting Gaby Fleischman
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County is joining Broward County in a move to ignore Governor Rick Scott’s decision to ban healthcare navigators from state health department buildings.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez told CBS4 that the county will welcome navigators with open arms as soon as the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.
Navigators are people trained by the federal government to help explain the Affordable Care Act to citizens.
“We have a disproportionately high number of uninsured people in Miami-Dade County,” said Gimenez. “They’re going to need help navigating this law.”
Governor Scott, an opponent of the proposed healthcare overhaul, ordered county health departments to ban navigators from conducting any outreach on their property. It was the latest and possibly last move by opponents of the ACA to try and derail its implementation. Scott argues the navigators pose a threat to privacy.
“In Minnesota, 2400 individuals, their driver’s license numbers were released by a navigator,” said Gov. Scott. “So we want to make sure how are these navigators going to use this information.”
Mayor Gimenez said he is not concerned about privacy, citing that the navigators are trained to follow HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), federal laws designed to keep health information private. For Gimenez, the bigger issue is making sure Miami-Dade citizens can understand the complicated coverage plans when the law is implemented on October 1st.
Miami Dade’s move followed a similar decision in Broward County; on Tuesday, commissioners decided to defy Governor Scott’s ban on navigators. Commissioners voted 8-1 that the state can’t bar Affordable Care Act navigators from county-owned health department buildings.
“These facilities are owned by Broward County,” said Mayor Kristen Jacobs. “As far as I’m concerned, the governor can say whatever he wants but he can’t say it here in Broward County.”
The issue gets more complicated in Miami-Dade, since the county doesn’t own most of the health buildings. The Florida Department of Health says the county only owns 5 out of 23 health facilities, one is owned by the state and the rest are leased.
Mayor Gimenez says even if the federal government stonewalls navigators from entering certain buildings, the county will do what it takes to make them available to the public.
“If we need to step up were going to step up,” said Gimenez. “If we have to, we will open our facilities in Miami-Dade, libraries etc., to have our folks access the information.”
For more information about the Affordable Care Act, including a glossary of insurance terms and a brief overview, click here.