Personal information provided by individuals enrolling through the exchanges will not be shared with all federal agencies, only those relevant agencies that will use the data to determine an applicant’s eligibility — the IRS, which will verify eligibility for federal subsidies to purchase insurance; the Department of Homeland Security, which will verify the immigration status of applicants (undocumented immigrants will not be eligible for federally-subsidized health insurance); and the Social Security Administration, which will verify identity, age and other information.
Those agencies, in turn, will send back to the exchanges only the relevant information. For example, the IRS will send an applicant’s adjusted gross income, but not their entire tax form.
All the navigator and consumer will see on their end is that they entered the information, and then the online exchange will display a determination of what subsidy the applicant qualifies for.
This year, Florida’s Legislature passed a law requiring navigators to register with the state and submit to criminal background checks and fingerprinting. But Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, who delivered a presentation Tuesday to the Cabinet on the privacy concerns related to navigators, said those regulations will not apply to other federally funded workers, such as assisters and counselors.
McCarty also told the Cabinet that the federal government will have much of the information that would be needed to prosecute a rogue navigator, and it “remains to be seen” if the government would share that information with state officials seeking to prosecute.
Scott framed his concerns in a political context apparently aimed at the Obama administration’s domestic spying scandal, in which the National Security Agency conducted unauthorized surveillance of Americans and foreign intelligence targets in the United States.
“We cannot stop the president’s plan to create a new federal database that compiles personal information on all Floridians,’’ he said.
Scott also questioned the adequacy of the 20 hours of training — reduced from 30 — that navigators will receive.
McCarty said 20 hours is not enough time to properly train someone on the complexities of health insurance. He said licensed health insurance agents and brokers in Florida “study for months” to prepare for examinations to test their financial understanding of health insurance plans.
He added that Florida also screens health insurance agents and brokers working for private companies. He said the screening process includes criminal background checks, fingerprinting and monitoring. And he emphasized that insurance companies are considered liable when their agents misuse consumers’ private information.
Florida’s navigators were announced on Aug. 15, when Sebelius visited Tampa to announce $67 million in federal funds had been awarded to navigators across the country, with $7.8 million for programs in the state.
In Miami-Dade, Doral-based Epilepsy Foundation of Florida will use its $638,000 grant to get out the health exchange message through existing partnerships with schools, churches, hospitals and government agencies. The National Hispanic Council on Aging will use part of its $647,000 grant to send navigators into Miami-Dade as well.