On FOX News, Pam Bondi talks tough (but wrong) about 'navigators'
This post has been updated (at bottom).
Attorney General Pam Bondi was back on Fox News this morning, repeating her criticisms of the health care law and concerns about "navigators" hired to help the uninsured sign up for coverage. In the process, she contradicted what she heard at last month's Cabinet meeting about the licensing and training of these enrollment advisors.
"Now we have navigators coming into our state and they're not doing background checks, they're not doing fingerprints," she said this morning. "Census takers have better background checks than the navigators."
But Bondi heard otherwise at the Aug. 20 Florida Cabinet meeting, where Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty gave an overview of the training and standards the state outlined for "navigators."
"In Florida, the Legislature has healed those gaps in the federal program by passing Senate Bill 1842, whcih requires navigators to be registered," McCarty said. "The registration process is set up much like agent licensing, except the federal government provides the training. Senate Bill 1842 requires fingerprinting and gives authority to the state to revoke a navigator's registration."
Click here to watch the Florida Channel video of the Cabinet meeting. McCarty's presentation begins at the 63:00 mark; the quote above comes at 66:30.
We emailed a Bondi spokeswoman to ask about the inconsistencies in her comments this morning but haven't heard back. Scroll to the bottom to see how Bondi's office explained her comments.
Bondi also told the Fox hosts that she wasn't convinced the "navigators" will protect patients' privacy as they assist with enrollment. "We're warning people to be careful because they're going to have your personal information and we're having a hard time getting answers," she said.
The director of a non-profit organization responsible for hiring "navigators" said last week that these advisors won't need to collect patients' private information in order to do their job.
To end the Fox segment, the morning show hosts wished Bondi luck as she runs for re-election in 2014. They didn't ask about her request to postpone an execution to avoid a conflict with her campaign kickoff.
UPDATE: Attorney General Pam Bondi's office is trying to clear up her statements on FOX News this morning criticizing the vetting process for health care enrollment advisors, called "navigators."
Bondi's chief of staff Carlos Muniz tells us via email that she was talking in general terms about the federal government's less stringent rules when she said "we have navigators coming into our state and they're not doing background checks, they're not doing fingerprints."
Bondi wasn't referring to Florida, where "navigators" must be licensed, pass background checks and submit their fingerprints for screening, Muniz said.
"It's clear in context that 'they' is referring to the federal government. Especially given concerns over whether Florida regulations are fully enforceable ... AG Bondi's point is that the federal government has an obligation to fully vet all navigators," Muniz said.
Although the federal law itself doesn't require background checks, many states likes Florida have implemented their own standards for "navigators." Bondi didn't mention Florida's stricter standards on Fox this morning. Muniz says that's because she wanted to focus on the federal government and not the state she represents during the four-minute long segment.
"The focus of AG Bondi's brief conversation with her Fox hosts was not Florida law, but instead her concern over the Obama administration's deficient implementation of the new federal healthcare law," he wrote.