Reporting Ian Schwartz
YUBA (CBS13) – Across the country call centers are being set up to help ready people for when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, goes into effect next year.
Yuba County says 18,000 people don’t have health insurance in the county, and soon they are going to have coverage questions. The call centers aim to answer those questions, but at a cost.
The $150,000 taxpayer-funded call center will help enroll residents in President Barack Obama’s new health care system come October.
“We’re excited and scared at the same time,” said Suzanne Nobles, director of the call center.
The county will hire 21 people to take calls. Funding for the call center will come from the state and federal governments, but Nobles says more money will be needed to pay workers’ salaries.
“Twenty-one people is kind of a soft number. We may not end up hiring that many people,” she said.
Nobles says without more people, the county won’t be able to keep up with the anticipated demand the health care overhaul will bring.
Supervisor Roger Abe wonders if the money will even be there as promised.
“Things change, and at some point in the future they could drop, or they could say we are going to shift more of that responsibility and cost for those programs to the county,” he said.
If that does happen, the county says they will scale back on the call center — which has residents split, wondering if money could be better spent elsewhere.
“There are some potholes. Maybe put up a soup kitchen to feed people who are actually homeless,” said one resident.
Others say it’s needed because the new health care law is just too confusing.
“Yeah, we all need answers to what it’s all about,” another resident said.
At the Sacramento County Health and Human Services building, a lot of work still needs to be done but the director is confident they will be ready with the call center by late September.
Also putting together a call center are Concord and Rancho Cordova.