The Florida Department of Health has become the latest arm of state government to distance itself from the federal Affordable Care Act. It has ordered county health units not to allow outreach workers called Navigators onto their property to help uninsured people sign up for subsidized health coverage.
The order from C. Meade Grigg, deputy DOH secretary for statewide services, went out late Monday to the 60 local health department directors around the state. He wrote that the staff may accept informational materials from the Navigators to hand out upon request.
“However, Navigators will not conduct activities on the grounds of the health departments,” Grigg wrote. He said the policy was developed after some had asked DOH for permission to operate within state facilities, presumably because uninsured people often seek treatment there.
Dr. Marc Yacht, retired Pasco County Health Director, said the policy will “significantly compromise a multitude of needy Floridians from getting critical health care.” He called it “cruel and irresponsible.”
Grigg’s note said the policy is consistent with requests from other groups in the past, which he did not name. The order makes an exception for federally qualified health centers that are operating within local health departments; 41 such clinics in Florida received $8.1 million in federal grants specifically to help uninsured patients enroll in a health plan.