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Navigators May Be Late for Debut

It's a good thing for uninsured Floridians that there is a six-month open-enrollment period for the federal online Marketplace. Most of the "navigators" who are being trained to help consumers enroll aren't licensed yet, and the Marketplace opens Tuesday.

According to a list released Wednesday by the Florida Division of Financial Services, only 57 of about 150 navigators for the state have applied to DFS for a license. Of those, only 11 had received one, the list showed.

But the holdup isn't the fault of the state, said DFS spokesman Chris Cate. The agency does a quick turnaround once the applications are complete, including the background check and federal certification that the applicant passed the test.

The online federal-training program that navigators must complete before seeking a state license has crashed frequently, according to navigator coordinators at the University of South Florida and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, the Orlando Sentinelreported.

Very few if any navigator-job spots are still open around the state, judging from an informal telephone survey by Health News Florida this week. Because of the tight timeline, agencies chosen for grants were ready to start hiring as soon as winners were announced about six weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the Sentinel offers a Q&A on navigators.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.