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Obamacare call centers not receiving many calls [Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.]

By Eric Vodden, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Oct. 04--Yuba and Sutter counties health and human services officials were still scratching their heads on Thursday as to why they aren't receiving more calls from statewide Covered California exchanges.

"Everything I have heard so far is pure speculation," said Russ Brown of Yuba County health and human services. "All we know is we were set up and ready for what we have been told to anticipate."

Brown said there were no Affordable Care Act enrollees transferred to Yuba County's Covered California call center as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Whether that means callers are enrolling online or being enrolled at the state exchanges, no one seems to know.

Lori Harrah, director of Sutter County Welfare and Social Services, said likewise that her county had one call transferred on Tuesday.

"We had one warm hand-off from Covered California yesterday and we were able to help that person," she said.

It isn't that those staffing the local call centers are sitting around waiting for calls.

Brown said those in Yuba County's call center are working on a large backlog of cases through other social service programs such as Calfresh.

Harrah said those in Sutter County's call center were handling from 420 to 440 calls each of the past couple days, also dealing with issues other than the Affordable Care Act.

"We have a pretty high volume and our staff is quite busy," she said, just not with calls from Affordable Care Act exchanges.

A state report indicated that only about 300 calls were transferred statewide, Harrah said. She said the state exchanges are probably still working out technical issues.

"We aren't sure how many calls are coming in right now," Brown said of the statewide exchanges. "There have been indications that it is slow for everybody."

While Affordable Care Act insurance plans don't take effect until Jan. 1, open enrollment lasts until March 31.

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