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Peter Lee: Covered California Answers Questions And 'Prayers'

Rebecca Plevin
Valley Public Radio
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, visited the new call center in Fresno.

Operators have responded to about 400,000 calls since Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, launched Oct. 1. Starting this week, employees at the new Fresno Service Center will also answer questions, and help people enroll in health insurance.

“Fresno is a community that reflects the diversity of California, and that’s who we need to have on our phones, serving Californians,” said Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California.

Lee was in Fresno this morning to celebrate the launch of the state’s third call center. The 570,000-square-foot call center, located in north Fresno, is expected to employ almost 300 people by the end of the year. They will take calls from people across the state, Lee said. 

“It’s not just answering calls, we’re answering prayers - prayers of thousands of Californians who previously were excluded from coverage due to a health condition that they have,” Lee said.

The health care law will make a big impact in the San Joaquin Valley, he said. In the region, an estimated 255,000 people will access private health insurance plans through Covered California, and 170,000 will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal.

“This isn’t a government take-over, it’s helping individuals pick the private plan that’s right for them,” he said. “This is huge. It’s making a big difference in the lives of thousands of people here in Fresno, and here in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Lee emphasized that the technological issues dogging the federal health care website, HealthCare.gov, have no effect on Covered California or its site, CoveredCa.com.

Rebecca Plevin was a reporter for Valley Public Radio from 2013-2014. Before joining the station, she was the community health reporter for Vida en el Valle, the McClatchy Company's bilingual newspaper in California's San Joaquin Valley. She earned the George F. Gruner Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and the McClatchy President's Award for her work at Vida, as well as honors from the National Association of Hispanic Publications and the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Plevin grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is also a fluent Spanish speaker, a certified yoga teacher, and an avid rock-climber.
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