Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Scott's campaign to sabotage the Affordable Care Act

Gov. Rick Scott says he sides with Florida's families, yet he is obstructing their access to health care. Citing groundless privacy concerns, the governor is trying to block county health departments from assisting people in signing up for health insurance on the state's online marketplace that will open in a few weeks. It's one thing to voice philosophical objections to federal law. It's indefensible to stand in the doorway and deny Floridians access to health care.

The Florida Department of Health this week told the state's 60 local health department directors that local public health offices, where the uninsured often go for medical services or for help getting them, cannot have navigators on the premises. Under the Affordable Care Act, navigators are the helper-bees who will help people sort through their health insurance options starting Oct. 1, including how much they can expect in a federal subsidy, if any, and how to enroll online. But it isn't clear how much practical impact the state's edict will have. Some Florida counties, including Pinellas, have received federal grants to employ navigators and county health offices often operate from county-owned, not state-owned, buildings. Pinellas officials smartly maneuvered Thursday to make sure the navigators are still hired and will have work space.

Navigators have become targets for Republicans in Washington and Tallahassee, because they will be pivotal in signing people up for health insurance in the online marketplaces. In Congress, Republicans in the House are harassing them with burdensome and baseless requests for information. In Tallahassee, a law passed earlier this year requires navigators to be fingerprinted and have a background check.

Critics of navigators raise privacy and information security concerns when people provide their personal information. The issues were raised last month by Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi. But it's a red herring to cover an overtly political agenda. The navigator program has in place privacy safeguards and strict data security protocols, and navigators will be fully trained.

In the Tampa Bay region and most of the rest of the state, the program is being overseen by the University of South Florida. Jodi Ray, the project director, has plenty of experience signing people up for health benefits and responsibly handling their data. And the people who ask navigators for help will be doing so voluntarily.

What the Scott administration has done is recklessly spread confusion. It isn't clear where the ban on navigators applies and where it doesn't. For instance, the 41 clinics in the state that are federally qualified health centers can use navigators. Whether navigators can be barred from county owned buildings anywhere in the state is an unknown. In Hillsborough, of the seven buildings where the health department operates, the state owns only one.

Helping uninsured Floridians acquire affordable health care coverage should be the goal of every state leader. Navigators will soon be available to smooth that process along. But Scott would rather play politics than help Floridians get the coverage they so desperately need.

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Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18