Providence, RI, USA Feb 9, 2016 -- Optum Inc., which has operated an at-times overwhelmed call center for HealthSource RI, has notified the state that it will be laying off 60 employees the first week of April.
The state is expected to announce very soon the company that will be named to serve as the call center operator when Optum's contract expires March 31.
Both the timing of the layoff and the wording of an Optum statement may well suggest that the state is likely to be going with a new vendor for the state-based health insurance marketplace.
"Optum was honored to help the people of Rhode Island gain access to health insurance, and we are committed to working with the state on a smooth transition so Rhode Islanders continue to have a positive customer service experience," spokesman Matthew Stearns said in a statement.
Maria Tocco, a spokeswoman for HealthSource RI, said on Tuesday that the state would be making an announcement within days about which company that responded to a request for proposals would be chosen as the vendor.
Optum ran the call center for HealthSource out of Optum's location on Royal Little Drive in Providence.
As recently as the third annual open enrollment over the past several months, customers complained of having to wait on hold for hours or never getting their calls answered. But HealthSource officials said that cuts to the agency's budget, necessitated by a phaseout of federal aid, required a downsizing of the call center staff.
Optum, which provides technology-based health services and customer service to a variety of corporate and institutional clients, will maintain a workforce of 350 employees in Providence, according to Stearns.
Optum notified the state Department of Labor and Training of the impending layoff. The federal WARN Act requires companies that employ more than 100 workers to notify states when they lay off 50 or more employees.
Optum's notice to the state said it will permanently eliminate 60 jobs at the Royal Little Drive location between April 1 and April 7. Close to 50 of them are customer service representatives.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Date Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2016
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