Illinois Community

Jobs Cut at Get Covered Illinois Before 3rd Enrollment Push

Author | Shield HealthCare
07/10/15  11:17 PM PST
Get Covered Illinois

By Carla Johnson, Medical Writer for the Associated Press

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has eliminated 15 staff positions from Get Covered Illinois, the state’s health insurance exchange, three months ahead of the third annual enrollment period under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The layoffs raise questions about the Republican administration’s plans for helping consumers enroll in health insurance coverage under the law — the Democratic president’s signature domestic policy achievement.
Staff members learned Wednesday of the layoffs that take effect July 31.

On Thursday, the Rauner administration announced Get Covered Illinois will become a division of the Department of Insurance to “streamline program processes” and “improve efficiency,” according to a news release. The insurance department is headed by Rauner appointee Anne Melissa Dowling, who came from the Connecticut Insurance Department and was a board member of Connecticut’s state-based health insurance exchange.

The open enrollment period for health insurance coverage begins Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31, 2016.

“Entering year three, we will be operating with less federal funding than in previous years and have reduced our staffing levels,” according to a statement emailed by chief marketing officer Jose Munoz, one of the people whose job was cut.

The Get Covered Illinois website and a call center will still operate. An unknown number of enrollment counselors will still offer in-person help throughout the state, said Stephanie Altman of the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, which has operated a technical assistance center for the enrollment counselors.

“It worries us,” Altman said of the layoffs. “We do feel some assurance that the state is continuing some important aspects like the website.” She noted that many other states operate their exchanges out of state insurance departments. Under former Gov. Pat Quinn, the insurance exchange was run from the governor’s office.

In the first two years of enrollment, under Quinn’s Democratic administration, Illinois obtained federal grants that paid for $33 million and $25.6 million contracts with the St. Louis-based FleishmanHillard to promote insurance coverage.

Read the Full Article at CBS Chicago.