You mean it's not free?
- California Democrats have been sucking furiously on the Federal teat to keep Obamacare going, but now that flow of "free" Federal cash is going away leaving California taxpayers to pick up the tab.
Covered California (Obamacare) is setting aside nearly $200 million to fight off projected budget shortfalls as it prepares for what it says is a challenging financial future without hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.
Officials brimmed with confidence after the agency tallied 625,000 individual or family health care enrollments through mid-January, the most of any state. They also say its survival is not assured, in part because of the uncertainty around sign-ups that are key to the exchange's success reports the San Francisco Examiner.
The greatest vulnerabilities include the "long-term sustainability of the organization" after federal grants that have been its sole source of support, more than $1 billion so far, dries up this year, the agency's executive director, Peter Lee, wrote in December to the California Department of Finance.
Lee outlined a list of potential risks that, along with the pace of enrollments, included safeguarding personal data, staff training and turnover, and protecting the agency from fraud and waste. To be self-sustaining, he said, the agency will make changes "to reflect ... revenue realities."
In its short life, Covered California has grown to oversee a $400 million budget, more than 860 employees and offices throughout the state. The agency is in the process of hiring 350 additional call-center employees, mostly in Fresno.
Need a Doctor? - You are Screwed!
Covered California pulls troubled online physician directory
The state's health exchange, Covered California, has taken down its error-plagued online physician directory until further notice.
The announcement was made after consumers complained that the directory contained misinformation about whether their doctors were participating in their new policies. Exchange officials said they would remove the physician directory from its website.
"We were trying to help consumers in selecting their plans, and we needed all (health insurers) to give reliable and accurate information," said Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Covered California reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The complaints began shortly after the policies became effective Jan. 1. Enrollees said that they checked the Covered California website to make sure their doctor would be part of their new plan's network, but later found out the information was wrong.
This is not the first time the new state agency has had to take the physician directory offline. The exchange pulled the doctor list from the site in mid-October to fix technical problems, but republished it before the end of that month, Gonzales said.
Gonzales noted that Thursday's decision affects only the combined physician directory, or the online tool that allowed consumers to see which physicians were in which networks to help them make their decisions. She said people can still find the physician information by clicking on individual plans. She did not know when the physician directory would be available again.