FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A company that has for decades helped people enroll in Medicaid says it won’t be able to sign up people for insurance under the new Affordable Care Act because there is too much scrutiny over a so-called navigator program.
According to an email obtained by The Associated Press, Cardon Outreach’s chief legal officer Charles Kable told the federal government it was returning more than $800,000 in federal grant money. The funds were supposed to be used to hire people in four states help explain the intricacies of health insurance to millions of people who aren’t covered.
While the email didn’t go into specifics, some have said those opposed to the health care law, mostly Republicans, are making it difficult for some of the navigator programs to get off the ground.
“The emerging state and federal regulatory scrutiny surrounding the Navigator program requires us to allocate resources which we cannot spare and will distract us from fulfilling our obligations to our clients,” the email said.
Texas-based Cardon Outreach was one of more than 100 nonprofits and related organizations recruited by the federal government to sign up navigators to help the 30 million uninsured people who can now gain coverage. The federal government gave the groups more than $67 million grants.
Cardon Outreach was supposed to help people in Florida, Oklahoma, Utah and Pennsylvania. The company, which has done similar outreach for 20 years for Medicaid recipients, did not return emails and phone calls.
Navigators are getting caught in the political crosshairs of the new health care law as the Oct. 1 launch date for the online state exchanges, a key component of the law, draws closer.
Cardon’s decision comes days after Florida health officials, which fall under Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration, ordered county health departments across the state to ban navigators from their property. Democrats lambasted the move, saying it put politics ahead of people.
Scott’s office has said only that he was aware of the decision.
Wisconsin and Indiana, both states led by Republican governors, are asking navigators and volunteers to pay fees for training. Some states are also charging for background checks.
Supporters of the new law said they expect even more efforts to derail it.