Return to the Full Article View You can republish this story for free. Click the "Copy HTML" button below. Questions? Get more details.

Let the Exchange Begin

State health officials will appear at events all over the state tomorrow to mark the official launch of California’s new health benefit exchange. Covered California’s enrollment and eligibility website goes live Tuesday.

Community groups also are holding events across the state this week to drum up interest and awareness in the exchange. A health fair is scheduled Wednesday in Salinas (Monterey County), for instance, and the California Primary Care Association Wednesday is hosting an outreach and enrollment Educational Expo in Sacramento.

The Service Employees International Union has posted an online Spanish-language video series to help educate Latinos about the exchange. The first video is up, and is available in English, as well.

All this activity is the start of a sustained initial effort. Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director, said there will be 7,300 exchange-related community events in the first three months of open enrollment.

Three call centers have been set up and staffed, with dedicated phone lines for 11 languages as well as English. The Covered California web site is functional and a media campaign has been launched.

“To be ready and functional to launch is in itself a miracle,” said Diana Dooley, secretary of Health and Human Services, at the most recent board meeting.

Tomorrow, there will be five events across the state, each involving state health officials:

  • Dooley, who is also chair of the Covered California health benefit exchange board, along with Lee and legislators, will appear at the Rancho Cordova call center. Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) and Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) — respectively, the chair of the Senate and Assembly health committees — are expected to attend.
  • Exchange board member Robert Ross and Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) will appear at Veterans Beach in San Diego.
  • Lee, along with director of the Department of Health Care Services Toby Douglas and state school superintendent Tom Torlakson, will appear at the Epic Roasthouse in San Francisco.
  • Dooley also will go to an event at California State University at Fresno. She will be joined by a Fresno council member and officials at CSU Fresno.
  • Exchange board members Kim Belshé and Ross, along with Lee and Douglas, are scheduled to appear at Union Station in Los Angeles.

Consumers must sign up with the exchange by Dec. 15 to receive coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014.

Some elements may be removed from this article due to republishing restrictions. If you have questions about available photos or other content, please contact