Filed Under:Markets, Employee Benefits

PPACA exchanges: The human side

The Covered California service center cafeteria in Rancho Cordova. (Covered California photo)
The Covered California service center cafeteria in Rancho Cordova. (Covered California photo)

Organizers of the Covered California health insurance exchange have already hired 200 people, and the exchange could have as many as 1,000 employees by year end.

Peter Lee, the executive director, and other exchange officials talked about the number and status of exchange employees today during a meeting of the board of the California Health Benefit Exchange, the agency overseeing the state's exchange system. 

The agency aired live video of the meeting on the Web.

The exchange wants to have 695 employees in place at service centers in the Rancho Cordova, Contra Costa County and Fresno areas.

The exchange is on track to move into the Rancho Cordova and Contra Costa service centers in just a few weeks, and training for service center trainers will start next week, according to Juli Baker, the exchange chief technology officer.

Because of negotiation delays in Fresno, the exchange could end up locating the office that was going to go into Freso in a nearby town, officials said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) almost brought Covered California hiring to a halt, by requiring Covered California to show that it had the statutory authority to collect employees' fingerprints and do background checks. But state lawmakers acted quickly to give the exchange statutory authority to do background checks, and now the exchange is back on track to open its service center Aug. 19, Baker said.

Contra Costa County is running the Contra Costa center. Because it started with clear statutory authority to collect fingerprints, it has been moving ahead with hiring, and it will soon have 120 employees, Baker said. 

Covered California can make job offers to 156 other applicants once the regulations implementing the new fingerprinting authority law are in place. Training the new employees will take about four to six weeks, Baker estimated

"We will continue to elect staff for subsequent hiring and training" to have 695 staff in place by the Oct. 1 exchange launch date Baker said.

At another point during the meeting, exchange staffers cheered when Lee said the exchange would have no board meeting in July.

"Many are working virtually all weekends," Lee said.

Some are planning to take short vacations in July, because they think that will be the last chance they will have to take a break before the first exchange open enrollment season ends, in April 2014, Lee said. 

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