Florida has barred counselors working to advise people on how to enroll in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act from conducting outreach at county health departments.
The directive this week from the state health department to the 60 local health departments had federal officials fuming. US Health and Human Services Department spokesman Fabien Levy called it "another blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate groups who will be working to inform Americans about their new health insurance options and help them enroll in coverage, just like Medicare counselors have been doing for years," the Miami Herald reports.
Under Florida's new policy, local health departments will be allowed to distribute brochures and other outreach material about insurance under the new state exchange upon request, but won't display it, the AP reports.
Florida Health Department officials said they wanted to provide clarity to county health departments because the navigators, who are hired by nonprofit groups, are not acting on behalf of the state. Enrollment in the state health care exchange plans starts Oct. 1.