A state agency today rewrote the rules governing California's affordable health insurance exchange to placate Vision Service Plan of Rancho Cordova.
The California Health Benefit Exchange board voted to revise the rules after VSP, which employs 2,000 Sacramentans, hinted it might leave the state.
After the 5-0 vote, VSP chief executive Rob Lynch said the company will add 400 jobs in the region - jobs that had been put on hold pending the outcome of the controversy with the benefit exchange. About 250 of the jobs will go in the company's lens-grinding lab in Rancho Cordova, he said, while most of the rest will be in call center and other support functions.
The exchange - which decided today to rename itself California Covered - is designed to become an affordable online marketplace. Staff projections say as many as 2.4 million uninsured Californians could buy coverage through the exchange, which launches operations in January 2014.
In August, the board declared that stand-alone vision care insurers, like VSP, could sell insurance to small businesses but not individuals. The reason was connected to the complications surrounding federal subsidies for consumers. Today, after hearing protests from elected officials, business leaders and more the past few weeks, the board reversed itself.
Lynch told the board today, "We just want to be able to play."
In an interview afterward, Lynch said the company hadn't planned to leave the state. But absent its inclusion in the exchange, he said, it would have taken "a serious look" at directing all future expansions toward other states. He said VSP has significant operations in New York, Ohio and Texas.
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