Obamacare call center in CA: Half the jobs will be part time
The irony here is so thick you can taste it.
The Contra Costa County supervisor whose district includes the call center called the whole hiring process -- which attracted about 7,000 applicants -- a "comedy of errors."
"What's really ironic is working for a call center and trying to help people get health care, but we can't afford it ourselves," said the worker, who asked for anonymity out of fear of losing the job. The county says it had been telling the public and supervisors all along that some positions would be full-time and some part-time. However, portions of staff reports list all 204 jobs as full-time, and a job posting said the same.
It's the latest controversy involving the call center, one of three created statewide to help citizens enroll in various new health care options under President Obama's Affordable Care Act when it goes live at the start of next year.
Contra Costa was selected early on by the state to run the call center, but the deal mandated the county run the operation itself, with state funding, or lose it to another county. Once Contra Costa secured the call center, Concord and Richmond battled for the right to host it. Unions nearly derailed the project before some last-minute wrangling to ensure workers weren't transferred needlessly and would receive appropriate benefits.
The state budget allows for 180 customer service agents, half of them part-time, when the call center opens Oct. 1, said Contra Costa Deputy County Administrator Theresa Speiker. The full-time employees, she said, will handle the core 40-hour work week, while the part-timers will handle the extended hours. For the first three months, the call center at 2500 Bates Ave., off Highway 4 and Port Chicago Highway, will be open 72 hours a week. After that, it drops to 59 hours a week.
"In open session and in (staff reports) we've been pretty clear that not all will be full-time jobs," Speiker said.
Speiker said the 7,000 applications were "totally outside what we anticipated with the demand for these jobs. We were blown away."
The new hires, many of whom left other full-time jobs for the call center positions, were told they were the "cream of the crop," the recent hire said.
Orientation and training started in July, but stopped on the afternoon of July 18, when employees were told they would have private meetings about their positions, the employee said.
More evidence that implementation of Obamacare is making the US a part time nation.
Once all the "bugs" become apparent (some bugs are actually features), Democrats in Congress will demand fixes. And those fixes are going to become more and more coercive as businesses dig in their heels. The definition of "full time" will probably change, as will the number of employees that would exempt a business from Obamacare requirements (currently at 50). Insurance companies will be squeezed, a blizzard of regulations will be piled on top of the thousands of pages already published, and the complexity of the law will allow the government to interpret it just about any way they want to.
None of this will help make Obamacare work any better. But it will bring us closer to the day when Obamacare will become a single payer system.