Scott Raises Privacy Concerns About Navigators; Healthcare Reform Advocates Say He's Blowing Smoke

Aug 23, 2013

Months after reversing his position on expanding Medicaid coverage in Florida, Gov. Scott and other members of the Florida Cabinet say they aren’t sure giving personal information to insurance navigators is a safe bet. This week, Scott even accused the federal government of using a person’s sensitive information to populate a national database.

“We cannot stop the president’s plan to create a new federal database that compiles person information on Floridians and all U.S. citizens who enter the federal healthcare exchanges,” Scott said during a cabinet meeting Tuesday in Miami.

And that wasn’t the only privacy concern the governor raised. Scott alleges navigators will share information with federal agencies, wouldn’t be properly vetted and wouldn’t have the necessary amount of training to deal with sensitive information.

But not everyone shares the governor’s apprehensions. Healthcare reform advocates are quick to point out that a navigator’s “access” to confidential information only occurs when a person initially signs up for insurance through the exchanges. Once that information is entered and sent through the marketplace, navigators have no real way of finding it again. And Dawn Steward, who heads KidCare in Orange and Seminole counties, said her organization has been signing children up for insurance using social security numbers since 1998.

“If they don’t have a social security number and there is a different type of number. We would need proof of citizenship or identity. We would need current pay stubs for the last four weeks and/or their most recent income tax return. You know, their 1040 or their W2. So, there’s a lot that’s the same,” Steward pointed out.

There is one distinct difference, though. KidCare navigators don’t share information with federal agencies. The ACA navigators will, but only with those that are applicable. For instance, in order to see what insurance tax credits a person can qualify for, the IRS would need to verify a person’s income and tax bracket. But, there isn’t any indication the information would make it to a database.  As for training, healthcare reform advocate Karen Woodall argues the mandatory 20 to 30 hours is more than some other social program facilitators get.

“The training, at least as I am aware of it, is more training than the folks who are currently participating in enrolling families in the KidCare program are receiving,” Woodall said.

The Florida legislature passed a law last session that further regulated navigators, including a fingerprinting and background check mandate for anyone who wants to be one. Still, some state officials worry the law isn’t broad enough to cover other ACA workers.