Florida Moves to Limit Access to Health Care

HealthCare_basicrightHispanic Heritage Month is now in full swing.  Latinos throughout the country have gathered to celebrate our culture and our community with festivals, awards shows, groundbreaking documentaries, and national convenings of some of our best nonprofits.  During this time, however, it’s equally important to highlight the challenges that lay before us.  One such challenge is ensuring access to the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

In one state, Florida, key decision-makers have done their best to keep residents from enrolling in the health care exchanges, which under the law will open October 1.  In an especially outrageous move, the governor, Rick Scott, has barred county health departments across the state from helping outreach workers provide accurate information about the law.  In a state whose uninsured population ranks number two nationwide, and where one in three Hispanics lacks health coverage, it is downright harmful to the general welfare of the people. 

“The state directive to ban patient navigator outreach activities that would put more health care options in the hands of Florida’s 3.8 million uninsured is irresponsible,” said Jennifer Ng’andu, Director of NCLR’s Health and Civil Rights Policy Projects, in a statement.  “The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land; as a nation, we should be doing everything in our power to harness its assets for vulnerable communities.”

Rick Scott for Florida, Rick Scott for Governor
Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)

According to the law, patient navigators involved with outreach are required to undergo significant training, perform their duties in an unbiased and culturally and linguistically appropriate manner, and uphold the privacy of the individuals they assist.  The next phases of implementation, opening the private insurance marketplaces, promises to benefit the Hispanic population most, yet a lack of information and outreach stand as barriers to the successful integration of many into the new insurance system.  Governor Scott’s action adds yet another obstacle to those trying hardest to fix health care in the U.S.  However, we will not be deterred.

You can count on NCLR to continue working with our coalition and local governments to guarantee that the most vulnerable populations receive the maximum benefits of the Affordable Care Act.  We praise the counties who choose to put the interest of their residents first and defy the order that would only threaten the health and well-being of the state.

“Our only imperative is that we deliver accurate and trustworthy information to the Latino community and eradicate the uninsurance problem in this country,” said Ng’andu.

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