California online community college announces first health care pathway

APRIL 25, 2018 BY ED COGHLAN

California’s health care providers have a workforce challenge. The state is going to need 11,000 medical coders between now and 2024—that’s about 1,600 job openings a year.

keyboard graphic for article, California online community college announces first health care pathwayThe proposed California online community college has announced its first partnership to establish a program pathway in the health care industry to meet needs like more coders.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare West & Joint Employer Education Fund met with reporters Tuesday to discuss the agreement.

The statewide online community college has been proposed by Governor Brown to help California’s stranded workers, those who lack job credentials and skills because they are unable to attend colleges because of family and work responsibilities.

If approved by the Legislature this summer, the college is expected to be activated by 2019.

Medical coders start at $30 per hour and can make as much as $50 per hour. Their task includes reviewing medical charts and assigning codes for insurance billing.

“These are attractive jobs to enter the health care industry,” said Rebecca Hanson of the SEIU UHW-West & Joint Employer Education Fund.

Lorraine Maisonet of Elk Grove, California was on the conference call. She works for Dignity Health and commutes two hours to work every day. She doesn’t have time to go to school but indicated that an online college would let her learn at her own speed when she could.

Alma Hernandez is the executive director of SEIU California, which represents more than 700,000 members. She said that many workers are stuck in dead-end jobs and don’t have access to the education opportunities that are already available. She also pointed out that the for-profit colleges that offer similar certificate programs are expensive and often result in workers being in debt.

“This is responding to the needs of California workers,” she said.

Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley indicated that the system is working on other pathways as the system focuses on how to help California workers improve their economic mobility and rebuild the state’s middle class.

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