By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD — Wanted: entry level worker to enroll thousands in Obamacare. Pay: $12 an hour or more; some jobs are full time, others part time. Prior work in the medical or insurance industry not needed, but political campaign experience is a plus.
Immediate openings available, as Obamacare is set to roll in fewer than 90 days.
Between now and October, hundreds, if not thousands, of people will be hired in Illinois as in-person counselors for Obamacare. Their jobs will be signing up as many of the 1.2 million uninsured men and women as possible.
“These folks are going to have a key role in enrolling people in Obamacare,” said Jim Duffett, executive director Illinois’ Campaign for Better Healthcare. “They will sign people up for the exchange, or enroll them in Medicaid.”
The state will soon spend $27 million to hire and train in-person counselors, the first wave of the Obamacare outreach team. Community health centers in the state are receiving $6 million to hire in-person counselors of their own.
Illinois is also spending another $35 million for a marketing team to pitch Obamacare across the state.
Duffett said he views the counselors as organizers, not salespeople.
“This is about organizing a campaign,” Duffet explained. “It’s very similar to finding people who do not vote.”
Brian Gorman is heading the outreach and enrollment efforts for Illinois. He most recently worked with President Obama’s re-election campaign.
The first in-person counselors will likely be hired by 42 community health centers across Illinois, which learned last week they will
split $6 million to hire 132 new workers.
“We’ll be able to hire the equivalent of nine full-time outreach and enrollment workers,” said Tom Owen, director of Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center, which received $338,554 from the federal government for Obamacare employees.
“We’re targeting the opportunity to certain people. We’re going to be working with community colleges and finding a population interested in having a job for a (year), a student population.”
Aunt Martha’s served 65,000 patients last year at its health centers in and around Chicago. Owen said 40 percent of its patients are uninsured and would be targeted to enroll in either Illinois’ expanded Medicaid program or an Obamacare insurance exchange.
The numbers are much smaller for Heidi Britton at the Knox County Community Health Center in Galesburg.
Britton said she will hire one full-time employee and one part-time worker with Knox County’s $63,000 grant.
“I think we have a lot of work to do between now and October when the marketplaces open up to understand the system,” said Britton, who doesn’t yet know how much time in-person counselors will spend on data entry versus “selling” the idea of Obamacare.
The new jobs will include a sales aspect, she said.
“We’ve already cracked the code as far as figuring out how to reach out to (the uninsured). The message coming from a community health center is going to be different from a message coming from the state of Illinois itself.”’
Late Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn’s office released a list of 44 additional community organizations that will hire their own in-person counselors.
The in-person counselors need to be hired quickly, as they need to be trained and licensed before Obamacare insurance exchanges open Oct. 1.
Email Benjamin Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.