Blog Post

No Healthcare for ObamaCare Workers?

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

As impossible as it might sound, workers hired to answer questions about ObamaCare in a California call center were just given word that about half of their new jobs will be part-time - without health care benefits!

The Contra Costa Times is reporting that when Contra Costa county in California won the right to host the call center where 200 workers will answer questions about the president's Affordable Care Act, everyone, including local politicians, saw it as an economic boon to the area.

It turned out to be anything but.

With less than two months to go before the operation opens to the public, new hires who were already in training were called into  private meetings where they were given the bad news.

Their jobs were now being called "part-time intermittent" and would not include healthcare coverage.

"It reminded me of that George Clooney movie where he goes around the country firing people ('Up in the Air')," one employee who cannot be named, told the Times. "The woman said, 'I know you were led to believe you would be full time, but things have changed. ... You are actually 'part-time intermittent.'"

No reasons were given for the change in status.

Those who will become part-time were told they'd have to pay for their health plans, which range anywhere from $600 to $1,200 a month for a single person and $1,400 to $2,900 for a family. For workers making only $15 to $18 an hour, this is hardly affordable.

The employee said the new "intermittent" employees now feel like they've been used as a political tool.

"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," the employee said.

The county claims they told new hires that some of the jobs were part-time, but staff reports and job postings all refer to the 204 jobs as "full-time".

Karen Mitchoff, Contra Costa County supervisor, described the whole hiring process for the 200 jobs as a "comedy of errors."

"The battle for the call center was over jobs with good working wages and benefits; I never dreamed they would be part-time," Mitchoff told the Times, and expressed her "extreme displeasure with how it was handled" to call center supervisors.

"It is very disappointing. I was under the impression these were going to be well-paying, well-compensated positions," said County Supervisor Mary Piepho. "We were really hopeful these would be jobs meeting the unemployment needs in our county and offer them the ability to make a living and support their families."

Commenting on this story as it appeared on the National Review Online website, one person wrote: "I interviewed for one of these jobs in Colorado Springs. . .What the article didn't mention was once January 1, 2014 hits...most of these employees (95%) will be laid off...with very few actually kept on for training and such."

Jazz Shaw of Hot Air summed it up best when he wrote: "Just another ringing success story from the Affordable Care Act, as it spreads its love from sea to shining sea."

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