Highly-publicized problems with the state-run health insurance marketplace have prompted a state lawmaker to introduce legislation that would expand the Covered California board and broaden its expertise.
The measure, SB 972, by State Senator Norma Torres (D-Pomona), is a response to what she considers to be Covered California’s poor customer service (particularly long wait times for those trying to reach its call centers), glitches on its website – including an indefinitely suspended provider search tool – and the agency’s failure to enroll larger numbers of people from key populations, particularly Latinos, non-English speakers and younger consumers, often referred to as “Young Invincibles.”
Since opening for business last October, Covered California has received heavy criticism from consumers, the media and elected officials for lackluster customer service and enrollment of key target markets. Recent staff reports indicate a majority of calls to its hotline (53%) are abandoned and less than 1% of calls are answered within 30 seconds. Approximately 5% of the state’s eligible Latino population has enrolled so far even though the program’s success largely depends on their participation. Other problems include a shortage of certified enrollment counselors to provide in person assistance and inaccuracies in its provider directory.
“The composition and membership of the board should reflect the needs of consumers. My bill broadens and diversifies the board’s expertise to improve oversight and accountability in areas where Covered California is struggling to meet consumer demands in a timely manner,” added Torres.
Citing poor customer service and struggles to enroll Latinos, California lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation to expand and alter the makeup of the state health insurance exchange’s five-member board of directors.
“Accountability starts at the top,” said Sen. Norma Torres, D-Pomona. “After almost three years on the job, it is indisputable this board of directors needs additional expertise to provide oversight of staff in areas where improvement is needed.”