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Covered California Daily News

  • Covered California Announces Director of Plan Management and Chief Financial Officer Appointments
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee announced the appointments of Anne E. Price as director of the Plan Management Division and James D. Lombard as chief financial officer.



    Price recently joined Covered California from Blue Shield of California. She has more than 20 years of financial and management experience in the health care industry, including commercial insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. At Blue Shield, she was director of finance and strategic partnerships with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. She reports to Yolanda Richardson, chief deputy executive director for strategy, marketing and product development.

    “Anne brings extensive experience in financial modeling, innovative product development, and contract negotiations with health plans, hospitals, medical groups and large employer groups,” said Lee. “She will be a huge asset to our agency going forward.” The annual salary for her position is $180,000.

    Lombard has 20 years of public finance experience, including budgeting and policy analysis, administration and program operations. He most recently was chief administrative officer in the California State Controller’s Office, where he supervised human resources, budgets, accounting, facilities and information technology. He will start his new job in the coming weeks. He will report to Susannah C. Johnsrud, chief deputy executive director of operations.

    “Jim’s strong fiscal background and knowledge of the organization and functions of state and local government are just what we need as a fairly new agency,” Lee said. “We’re glad to have him on our team.” The annual salary for the chief financial officer is $160,485.

    About Covered California
    Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

    Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.
  • Covered California Announces Promotion and New Appointment to Senior Leadership Team
    Richardson Helped Lead New Health Insurance Exchange Through Its Historic First Enrollment Success; Johnsrud Brings Strong Financial Skills to Agency

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee has announced the appointments of Yolanda R. Richardson as chief deputy executive director of strategy, marketing and product development; and Susannah C. Johnsrud as the new chief deputy executive director of operations.


    In her new role, Richardson is responsible for developing and implementing the agency’s strategic approach to product development, marketing and sales to ensure Covered California is well-positioned to retain its strong customer base and continue its rapid growth by providing a solid value proposition for individuals and small businesses.

    “Yolanda Richardson has not only done a stellar job in getting us more than up and running; she also brings to Covered California deep experience in private health plan operations,” Lee said. “She embodies the Covered California spirit of listening, learning and adjusting.”

    Richardson joined Covered California in April 2012 as deputy chief operations officer, playing an instrumental leadership role in setting up the new exchange’s operations. She provided executive-level leadership over the direction of day-to-day operations for the agency. She also provided leadership over the design and management of internal control systems, organizational structure, all business operations and human resources. The salary for Richardson’s new position with Covered California is $210,000.

    Johnsrud most recently served as director of the Financial Information System for California (the FI$Cal Project), which is integrating financial management for the state of California. Previously, she was chief operating officer of the governor’s office, providing counsel on fiscal, human resources, information technology and other issues statewide.

    She also has served as chief administrative officer and chief financial officer for the state Department of Justice. The salary for her position with Covered California is $190,000.

    “Sue Johnsrud has a wealth of experience in information technology, operations, human resources and complex financial management,” Lee said. “She comes to us with a great background and perspective to help us as we continue to grow and mature as an organization.

    “Covered California has a big mission, big aspirations and a big job. With the team we are building — including Yolanda, Sue and our entire staff — we are positioned well to manage the challenges that lie ahead.”

    About Covered California
    Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

    Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.
  • Covered California Accepting Applications for $16.9 Million in Grants for New Enrollment and Education Program
    ‘Navigators’ Will Inform and Help Consumers Enroll in Quality, Affordable Health Insurance Plans

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California™ has announced its intent to award up to $16.9 million in grants for the launch of its Navigator Program, the next phase in the agency’s outreach, education and enrollment efforts.



    Covered California will award grants to educate consumers about Covered California health insurance plans and about how to obtain financial assistance to help pay for them. Navigator activities will also include informing consumers about the benefits of obtaining health care coverage, motivating consumers to act, helping consumers to shop for and compare plans, and assisting consumers in enrollment and renewals.

    The goal of the Navigator Program is to enroll more than 130,000 subsidy-eligible consumers during the second open-enrollment period: Nov. 15, 2014, to Feb. 15, 2015. Navigators also will help current enrollees renew their health insurance coverage.

    Covered California is seeking proposals from grant applicants that have statewide and regional reach or scope. Covered California seeks organizations with experience providing outreach to California’s diverse populations and proven success enrolling consumers in health care programs.

    Upward of 135 organizations could receive grants, which will be based on recipients enrolling a predetermined number of consumers. Grants will cover the period of Oct. 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.

    The grant application deadline is July 28, 2014. Awards will be made starting Aug. 27, 2014. Covered California reserves the right to award grants in phases.

    Organizations will be selected through a competitive grant application process. Applications will be evaluated based on the best overall value and most effective enrollment strategies. Grant applicants must comply with the Enrollment Assistance Program regulations. Interested organizations are encouraged to carefully review the application information and view a webinar that explains the application process on Covered California’s stakeholder website, at http://hbex.CoveredCA.com/navigator-program/.

    About Covered California
    Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

    Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

  • Covered California's Executive Director: We're Open for Business
    “We’re open for business and enrolling thousands of Californians every day.” That’s what I say when people ask what Covered California is doing now that our historic first open-enrollment period has come to an end. We need you to get the message out that Covered California is still very “open for business.”

    By the end of March, 1.4 million people had embraced this new era of health care and selected a Covered California health insurance plan, with many more signing up for Medi-Cal through our website and with the help of thousands across the state. Today the opportunity to get covered still exists for many Californians, and we’re doing everything we can to let people know.

    Covered California's special enrollment period is open for those 
    with life-changing events, if you are eligible for Medi-Cal and,
    for a limited time, if you are on COBRA
    If you, a friend or a neighbor has had a major change of circumstance — whether it’s the joyful moment marked by getting married, the day a child is born, or the challenge you face when you lose your health care coverage because you’ve changed jobs — you can still sign up for a quality, affordable health care to protect yourself and your family. You would still be potentially eligible for financial help to reduce your costs, and you couldn’t be turned away by an insurance company. In addition, if you are eligible for Medi-Cal, you can enroll year round.

    During our “special-enrollment period,” from April to November, you can sign up for coverage as long as you do so within 60 days of the qualifying life event. The most common reasons that make someone eligible are:

    • You lose your health care coverage because you’ve lost or changed jobs.
    • You get married or enter a domestic partnership.
    • You have a baby, adopt a child or place a child in adoption or in a foster home.
    • You move and gain access to new Covered California health insurance plans that were not available where you previously lived.
    • You become a citizen, national or lawfully present individual.

    We know that these moments happen in the lives of thousands of Californians every day, and our special enrollment is a chance for these people to get the protection and peace of mind that they deserve. And the good news is that thousands are signing up every day.

    For a limited time, a special-enrollment period is also open to Californians who are covered through COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). For more than three decades, COBRA coverage has allowed people who lost their employer-sponsored health care coverage to keep their plan, if they paid the full cost plus a 2 percent administrative fee. We estimate that about 300,000 Californians have insurance through COBRA or CalCOBRA (the state program that extends the post-work coverage option for an additional 18 months).

    For many people on COBRA, plans in Covered California could be better options, thanks to the good rates we negotiated for consumers and thanks to the possibility of federal financial assistance and cost-sharing reductions that are available only through health exchanges like Covered California. This financial help could save Californians on COBRA hundreds of dollars a month and thousands of dollars a year. And many Californians can get a better deal even without a financial subsidy.

    The special-enrollment period for COBRA beneficiaries ends on July 15. For more information, visit www.CoveredCA.com/faqs/cobra.

    Special enrollment for those with life-changing events will be available to all eligible Californians until open enrollment resumes in the fall. For more information, visit www.CoveredCA.com/coverage-basics/special-enrollment. And remember: When in doubt, tell your friends to apply. They may be eligible for Medi-Cal and not realize it.

    If you qualify for any of these opportunities, you can apply at the Covered California website and click on the “Special Enrollment” button. You can also contact one of our Certified Enrollment Counselors or Certified Insurance Agents, or you can call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

    We’re hard at work planning for the next open-enrollment period, but with your help we will continue to make California a better place to live for thousands of families. Thanks for helping us get the word out.
  • Covered California Creates Limited Special-Enrollment Period for Those Covered by COBRA
    COBRA Enrollees Have 60 Days to Switch to an Exchange Plan; Move Is Expected to Save California Consumers Money on Health Insurance

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Beginning Thursday, May 15, Covered California will launch a limited-time special-enrollment period for people who have COBRA health insurance and would like to switch to an exchange plan.

    People who have health coverage through COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) will be eligible to shop for and buy coverage through Covered California from May 15 through July 15, 2014. The two-month window mirrors a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ruling announced May 2 that allows COBRA enrollees to buy plans through the federal exchange until July 1.

    The federal policy for the COBRA special-enrollment period was approved amid concerns that notifications did not give consumers clear information about options in the new marketplace. HHS encouraged state exchanges to follow suit.

    “COBRA coverage has given vital protection for nearly three decades to people who lost coverage from their employers, especially those who couldn’t get affordable insurance because of their age or a pre-existing condition,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, plans in the individual market could be preferable to COBRA coverage because of premium assistance and cost-sharing reductions, available only through the exchanges. For some people who have COBRA coverage, purchasing a plan in the Covered California marketplace during this special-enrollment period could save thousands of dollars a year.”
    Under COBRA, individuals who experience a job loss can purchase the coverage they had through their employer but are responsible to pay the full cost. In some cases, individuals and families, particularly if they qualify for subsidies, can purchase more affordable coverage in the health benefit exchanges.

    “COBRA will continue to be a cornerstone of coverage for workers after a job loss, but it’s important for employees to know that there are options in the marketplace that could save them money,” Lee said.

    This newest category of special enrollment joins a host of “qualifying life events” under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that allow consumers to get exchange coverage during a time when open enrollment is not available. Other events include losing coverage, having a child, getting married and moving.

    COBRA enrollees who would like to take advantage of this limited special-enrollment period can apply at the Covered California website and select “Other qualifying life event” during the special-enrollment application process.

    For more information, visit www.CoveredCA.com/faqs/cobra/.

    In addition to special-enrollment period opportunities for private health insurance plans, Medi-Cal enrollment for low-cost or no-cost health coverage continues year-round on the Covered California website. For more information on applying for Medi-Cal, visit www.CoveredCA.com and click on “Apply Today!”


    About Covered California

    Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

    Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.