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Health News Florida

FL Lawmakers Clash in Capitol Hill Testimony

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Two Florida lawmakers were in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning to share their perspective on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, and state Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, testified before a joint meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements and the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs. State officials and lawmakers from Kansas, Louisiana and South Carolina also testified during the hearing.

Both Florida lawmakers say they're worried about the online health plan shopping site called the Marketplace that's scheduled to open Oct. 1. But they're worried for very different reasons.

Hudson said his concern is security. 

"Exchange applicants will have to hand over Social Security numbers, birth dates, employment information, tax returns and much more," Hudson said. "All the information needed for identity theft." 

Sobel said her concern is that many Floridians don't even know about the Marketplace or how to use it. She cited an order from Gov. Rick Scott's administration that prevents local health departments from allowing enrollment advisors called "navigators" into their offices.

"This is a desperate attempt to prevent access to those who need health insurance the most," she said.

Federal officials announced Wednesday afternoon that health officials and the Federal Trade Commission are working together on new initiatives to protect consumers who will be shopping on the Marketplace. 

“We have strong security safeguards in the Marketplace to protect people’s personal information against fraud and we will work with our partners to aggressively prosecute bad actors, just as we have been doing in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a news release.
 
Meanwhile, Republicans leaders in the House are expected to vote Friday on a measure to defund the Affordable Care Act.

--Health News Florida is part of WUSF Public Media. Contact Lottie Watts at 813-974-8705 (desk) or e-mail at lottiewatts@wusf.org. For more health news, visit HealthNewsFlorida.org.