Governor Rick Scott
The Florida Department of Health is banning outreach workers from signing up uninsured people for Obamacare at county health facilities.
The outreach workers, also called "Navigators," are only allowed to distribute materials related to Obamacare by request.
"This program has raised privacy concerns due to the consumer information that will be gathered for use in a federal database. In light of this uncertainty and as an integrated Department of Health we sought to provide a consistent message across each county in Florida," said the department in a statement, noted the Associated Press.
However, U.S. Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said this so-called "concern" by Republicans was false in back in August.
"Contrary to Gov. Scott's statements, consumers will never be asked to provide their personal health information to the Marketplace, whether through a Navigator or not," Peters told Reuters. "There is no such database of American's health information, and multiple independent fact checkers have debunked this claim."
HHS spokesman Fabien Levy added, "This is another blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate groups who will be working to inform Americans about their new health insurance options and help them enroll in coverage, just like Medicare counselors have been doing for years."
According to Health News Florida, the ban on the outreach workers' free speech will not apply to 41 federally-qualified clinics that operate in local departments.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) slammed Fla. Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Twitter: “Time to end the political theatrics and work on implementation, not more obstruction.”
Florida has been at the center of the Stand Your Ground debate ever since the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, but a recent poll has found anti-SYG fervor is not actually that strong in the Sunshine State.
A recent poll found 50 percent of Floridians want to keep SYG intact, 31 percent want the law changed and only 13 percent want the law removed completely. The poll’s findings are ever-so-slightly suspicious coming from the conservative group Viewpoint Florida, but the Miami Herald reports that Viewpoint Florida’s findings support similar claims made by other polls.
With those numbers, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) can comfortably ignore the public outcry surrounding SYG and stand by his claim that he will not repeal the law. In fact, it is entirely possible that SYG will not have much of an impact on the next Florida gubernatorial race at all.
“I don’t think [Stand Your Ground] is the litmus test for the election," said Sen. Nan Rich (D), who has announced that he intends to run for governor. "There should be a discussion about it. But it’s not a litmus issue.” Rich voted in favor of SYG when it passed the Florida legislature in 2005.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) might also run for the governor’s seat. Crist has a much stronger stance against Stand Your Ground. He has said he would call a special session to amend SYG because “there is a need for change.” With only 31 percent of the Florida population supporting a change to SYG, however, Crist might never get that chance.
David Beattie, a Democratic pollster, explained why some of these gubernatorial candidates might face opposition in the upcoming election.
“Voters tend to believe there’s a right to own guns, there’s a right to protection and there’s a concern about government restrictions," Beattie said. "If there’s a choice between too much restriction or too little, there’s a sentiment favoring less restriction. Is it true with guns? Absolutely. It’s also true, though, when it comes to abortion.” He added that many “view [guns] as a lifestyle issue and a personal freedom issue.”
Source: Miami Herald
Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll Resigns After Being Linked To $300 Million Gambling Conspiracy
Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll sent a brief note to Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday tendering her resignation after an Internet cafe company that she was a consultant for was linked to illegal gambling. The Republican elect was the highest-ranking woman in the state government and the first black official elected statewide.
Hours after her resignation, 57 people were charged in a $300 million conspiracy that authorities say was orchestrated by Allied Veterans of the World, a non-profit organization that runs Internet cafes. Carroll was the co-owner of a PR firm that represented the group. She is cooperating with the investigation, Reuters reported.
"Although I do not believe I or my company are targets of the investigation, I could not allow my company's former affiliation with Allied Veterans to distract from the administration's important work for the families of Florida," Carroll said.
According to a press statement from the Seminole County Sheriff's office, operation "Reveal the Deal" uncovered a "sophisticated racketeering and money laundering scheme stemming from 49 illegal gambling centers operating under the guise of Internet cafes. The organization falsely claimed to be a charitable veterans' organization, but instead deceived the public and government while lining the pockets of its operators.”
Authorities believe the organization brought in $300 million from January 2008 to January 2012 but gave less than two percent to charity.
Investigators seized slot machines and records as well as 80 vehicles and vessels, 170 properties and 260 bank accounts estimated in the tens of millions of dollars. Besides making arrests in Florida, law enforcement officials made busts in five other states including Oklahoma and South Carolina. Governor Scott will wait until the legislative session ends in May to choose a replacement for Carroll.