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Irony alert: Part-time, uninsured jobs delay Obamacare implementation

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Headline: State delays slowing Obamacare call center training.

Oh, California...

On Oct. 1, the day the state is scheduled to begin taking calls enrolling citizens in Obamacare, the controversial Concord call center may be the only one that is operational statewide, the Contra Costa official supervising the project said Tuesday.

Training material has been delayed, hiring has been slow in the two other state-run call centers in Fresno and Rancho Cordova, and the computer system is nowhere near complete, Kathy Gallagher, employment and human services director, told county supervisors.

In her report updating the county's much criticized hiring process, Gallagher said delays in getting other call centers up and running will not force Contra Costa County to subsidize its center's operations from the general fund.

"My concern is to make sure this remains cost-neutral to the county," Supervisor Candace Andersen said.

The delays are the latest bumps in the state's effort to implement the federal Affordable Care Act. The county, which won a contract to host the call center earlier this year, had championed its 204 jobs as a boon for the regional economy. But complaints that many newly hired workers only recently learned their jobs were part time without benefits has overshadowed the good news.

In its bid for the center, Contra Costa County stated that it would have 90 full-time call service agents and 90 agents who are "permanent intermittent," a classification below part-time where the worker is guaranteed no hours and pays 100 percent of their own health care to start. The county does offer health benefits for those employees as long as they work at least 50 percent of full time hours for three consecutive months. However, they contribute more toward their premiums than other workers.

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