J. Robert McClure III

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J. Robert McClure
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Opinion
Opinion Columnist

Many Americans believe that the federal government has become too big, too invasive and too unwieldy. Indeed, if you are one of those citizens who thought some of the questions asked during the 2010 Census were a bit too nosy, just wait until you meet the next wave of folks who may come knocking on your door this fall.The “navigators” are the hastily hired, lightly trained and insufficiently vetted emissaries for the health insurance exchanges mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.Press reports say the navigators will be paid about $15 an hour, using $67 million in federal grants funneled mostly through community organizations sympathetic to the cause. So essentially, you will have temporary employees with little loyalty or accountability to their employer asking: “What’s your Social Security number?”What could possibly go wrong?A lot, as evident from a massive breach of personal data in Minnesota recently. Such careless handling of personal information could lead to identity theft, a crime so much on the rise that it has prompted a series of public service announcements warning viewers against sharing their personal information with strangers, whether in person, on the web or over the phone.No wonder 13 state attorneys general have warned about the possibility that giving personal information to the navigators could cause problems. Indeed, that’s why the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) ordered the directors of the state’s 60 local health departments to prevent navigators from lurking around their offices and pestering patients to sign up.It’s also a reminder that you don’t have to be paranoid or a partisan foe of this unpopular and intrusive law to be concerned if and when a navigator knocks. Even so, some health care law supporters have tried to make it a partisan issue by portraying legitimate questions as mere attempts to oppose the president. The defenders are also trying to minimize the public’s concerns. Typical are the editorials in the traditional media criticizing the FDOH decision.