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Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

Programs that help people sign up for Affordable Care Act plans in Florida will have their funding cut by 81 percent this year.

The Trump administration this week cut the budget for programs that help people sign up for Obamacare plans by more than 70 percent.

Navigators will be at Recreation Centers in Tampa

Jan 13, 2014
Yoselis Ramos / WUSF

With a March 31st deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is joining in the effort to get folks to sign up.  So-called healthcare "navigators" will soon be at nine recreation centers across Tampa to help people with the enrollment process.

Buckhorn was joined Monday by Congresswoman Kathy Castor and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at the Loretta Ingraham Center, one of the locations where navigators will be available to assist people in signing up for health care insurance.

At a community center named for Florida civil rights pioneer Carrie Meek, a few dozen members of Miami's National Church of God gathered over the weekend for a tea party — and to hear from a special guest, Monica Rodriguez of Enroll America.

The organization is working to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act, the federal law that will let people without health insurance shop for coverage starting Oct. 1.

Pinellas County officials say the state Department of Health has agreed that Affordable Care Act enrollment advisors can operate within the same buildings as the local health department staff.

And DOH staff can refer uninsured patients to the advisors, called Navigators, for help in enrolling in a health plan on the Marketplace when it opens Oct. 1. 


"What the state said was that we could not hire Navigators, but that we could refer people to county offices within our buildings," said DOH/Pinellas spokeswoman Maggie Hall. She said it amounts to a "compromise."

The county and state agency were able to reach it because Pinellas County owns the buildings that the state DOH rents for its local operations. The Navigators cannot operate within the same offices as DOH staff, under the dictates from Tallahassee, which still stand. But they can be stationed nearby, providing one-stop-shopping to those who seek treatment at the health department.

Eight groups that are hiring and training "navigators" to help uninsured Floridians enroll in Obamacare have been sent letters by a U.S. House committee seeking information on their activities  -- a letter that some have called "intimidating."

Two of the groups are public entities: University of South Florida and Pinellas County Board of Commissioners.