By Mark Lisheron|Watchdog.org
For taxpayers somehow worried you might get left out of the process of serving up a heaping helping of Obamacare to America, relax. You’re doing more than your share.
The good people of Contra Costa County, Calif., set off a bit of a panic last week, when they revealed that half of the more than 200 people hired to operate the state-run health insurance exchange for Obamacare would not, themselves, be eligible for Obamacare.
Taking a cue from the private economy concerned about a walloping from rising insurance costs or the penalties imposed by Obamacare’s mandate, Contra Costa call center supervisors informed new hires they would be needing them only part time.
No 40 hours a week. No health insurance. No surprise these part-timers saying they were duped by their job recruiters.
Well, that just isn’t going to happen in the 34 states that told the Obamacare people they would rather not do their bidding. With $530 million taxpayer dollars at their disposal, they are completing staffing 17 of what they are calling health insurance marketplace call centers.
At the ready by Oct. 1 will be 12,000 customer service representatives with 150-language capability, Richard Olague, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Watchdog.org.
While Olague declined to say just exactly where these call centers are located, Watchdog.org sleuthing turned up centers in Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
Each and every one of them will get a taxpayer underwritten full-time salary and full Obamacare medical dental and vision coverage, Olague said. At least for the first year.
These call centers are considered the primary gateway to the expansion of federally (and by that we mean taxpayer) supported health care for an estimated 27 million low-income Americans.
As many news outlets, including the Washington Examiner, have pointed out, coercing the young and healthy to join in the underwriting will be no mean feat.
Unlike the disgruntled of Contra Costa County, the beneficiaries of the federal call center largesse are delighted with their good fortune.
Vangent Inc. a subsidiary of favored federal contracting behemoth General Dynamics, built a new call center and staffed it with 1,000 people in the Cloverleaf Center in Hattiesburg, Miss.
“This is a Fortune 100 company and we’re happy to be working with them,” said Chad Newell, president of the Area Development Partnership of Greater Hattiesburg. “They have delivered on everything they promised from the beginning.”
Bogalusa, La., had a 600-seat call center sitting vacant in its industrial park until Obamacare officials offered them $60,000 to lease it for a year and fill every seat with local workers, said Ryan Seal, executive director of the Washington (Parish) Economic Development Foundation.
“The whole town is abuzz about these jobs,” Seal said. “As you know, empty call centers are a dime a dozen. We’re just glad to have a seat at the table.”
Seal said he is well aware that like the rest of America, Bogalusa is split on the issue of Obamacare. Steady paychecks in an economically challenged part of an economically challenged state have a way of dampening controversy.
“Regardless of national politics, regardless of how you feel about the president, Congress and Obamacare,” Seal said, “we’re proud to be getting these jobs.”
Contact Mark Lisheron at Mark@Watchdog.org