Broward Defies Gov. Scott, Allows Obamacare Counseling; Miami-Dade Up Next

Sep 25, 2013

Credit PATRICIA BORNS / For Miami Herald

Broward County commissioners countermanded an order from the governor on Tuesday, throwing open its health department offices for meetings between the uninsured and trained Affordable Care Act advisers.

Governor Rick Scott had previously put the buildings off limits for Obamacare counseling, saying insurance seekers might become identity theft victims.

'I'm sick of showing up on the evening comedy shows as a laughing stock .' -Kristin Jacobs

But county commissioners voted 8 to 1 to reinstate access for the so-called navigators and to remind the state that the county owns the buildings. Mayor Kristin Jacobs said Gov. Scott's  privacy issue is a red herring.

"He has demonstrated his attempt to obstruct the implementation of the A-C-A and has even gone so far as to put up roadblocks to prevent the sharing of information," Jacobs said during a news conference after the vote on her resolution.

Under the new county plan, people seeking information about the Affordable Care Act and how to get insurance coverage can go not just to any of seven health department buildings, but to county libraries as well. Will the state fight back? Jacobs said, "Bring it on!"

"I'm sick of showing up on the evening comedy shows as a laughing stock and that is certainly what that decision has done for us here, in the state of Florida, as we become the nightly joke."

There's been no word from the governor's office.

Jacobs said more than a third of a million Broward County residents are under- or uninsured. Many of those live in the commission district of  Dale Holness, who represents two of the county's poorest zip codes.

"You're gonna find high levels of poverty, a great need for health care," Holness said. "We also have the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS. So, within my district, it is essential that the folks there get access to health care."

Broward is the larger but not the first county to defy the governor on allowing access to the outreach workers. Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg is, has already done so.  Both counties are heavily Democratic.  Some other counties are complying with the governor's order.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest county and the one with the largest number of uninsured, is making plans to join Broward and defy Gov. Scott’s decision banning Obamacare navigators from operating at local health departments.