The Associated Press reported yesterday that Cardon Outreach, a company that for years has enrolled poor and disabled people in Florida and other states in Medicaid, was returning more than $800,000 in federal grant money meant to help enroll people in Obamacare, due to what a spokesman called “The emerging state and federal regulatory scrutiny surrounding the Navigator program…”
And so, like the mad Black Knight of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” film fame who gets his arms and legs chopped off in battle but defiantly refuses to accept defeat (“Tis but a flesh wound!”), Florida Governor Rick Scott can claim a small, meaningless victory in his ongoing battle against Obamacare implementation in the Sunshine State.
But a broad network of other organizations is continuing on track with rollout of the navigator program that will help enroll uninsured people in new health insurance exchanges, whether the governor likes it or not.
The latest chapter in this never-rending story comes after the announcement last week of an official Florida blockade of Obamacare “navigators”, the customer service workers who are fanning out across the country to educate the uninsured about the new exchanges and help get them insured starting Oct. 1.
Florida Deputy Health Secretary C. Meade Grigg was the one who issued the order banning navigators from working through the state’s 60 county health departments - where so many low-income, uninsured Floridians in need can be found.
But savvy Rick Scott watchers saw the governor’s fingerprints all over the move, expecting something like this after he recently made noise about the supposed risks of identity theft arising from the navigators’ work with the uninsured.
Yeah, right. That’s about as believable as his claim last year that (virtually non-existent) past instances of voter fraud justified new restrictions on Floridians’ voting rights. We all remember how well that worked out for us in last November’s elections.
The history here is fraught with bad intentions worthy of the governor’s silver screen lookalike, the villainous Dark Lord Voldemort who persecuted poor Harry Potter for so many years.
Or to shift the analogy from movies to books, consider Obamacare as the Moby Dick that turned citizen Rick into Captain Ahab, his harpoon already aimed at killing national health reform before he ever ran for governor.
In fact, he used a personal fortune amassed as CEO of a criminally fraudulent health insurance company to finance a slew of anti-Obamacare advertising spam from 2009-2010. But Obamacare - the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act - still passed Congress and was signed into law.
So Scott ran for governor of the state with the second highest rate of uninsured citizens in America, got elected after spending 75 million bucks, and kept battling health reform.
Yet despite years of subversive legal and legislative and legal wrangling at the taxpayers’ expense, despite all the foot-dragging on infrastructure building needed to implement the new law…Obamacare moved forward and began changing lives for the better.
Thousands of Floridians who had been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions were now finally able to get insurance. Thousands of young people were now able to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. Hundreds of thousands of seniors now saw the infamous Medicare RX “donut hole” start shrinking. And countless thousands of Floridians gained new access to preventive care services, for free.
Now, the new health insurance exchanges are set to begin the process of insuring the uninsured. And here in the state with just about the worst uninsured crisis in America, the governor decides to brazenly block that process, having his surrogate announce that Obamacare navigators must stay out of the state’s county health department offices.
This is the same governor who after years of attacking and obstructing health reform got nationwide attention last winter after suddenly claiming he was ready to embrace it.
Yeah, right. That was as out of character as it would have been for Voldemort to back off the bad guy stuff in the final Harry Potter movie, pledging wizardly cooperation moving forward; or for Captain Ahab to have found Moby Dick one last time, only to praise his pluckiness before leading him to a nice feeding spot and sailing off into the sunset.
Even before launching this navigator blockade, Scott showed his true colors by signing a new law last spring that allows health insurers to raise their premiums as much as they want for the next two years, when Obamacare insurance exchanges are getting up and running – provided they send customers a detailed letter explaining how much of that inflated new premium cost is due to Obamacare!
I mean, like…wow. You just can’t make this stuff up.