WellCare to cut 100 Medicaid marketing, sales jobs

TAMPA—More than 100 workers at two Tampa Bay area companies have been left without jobs because of new restrictions in the way Florida allows insurers to market Medicaid plans.

WellCare Health Plans Inc. told employees Monday that it plans to lay off 100 marketing and sales employees throughout Florida, spokeswoman Amy Knapp said. Last week, AmeriGroup Florida laid off 60 of its workers at its offices around Florida, including at its main offices in Tampa, said spokesman Kent Jenkins Jr.

The layoffs stem from a policy change by state officials that is meant to protect the low-income and elderly participants in Medicaid from heavy-handed marketing. The state had concerns about marketing tactics by private companies that left Medicaid participants confused, like cold calling and door-to-door sales, said Fernando Senra, spokesman for Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration.

It's the latest in a drumbeat of bad job news in the Tampa Bay region. More than 630 job cuts have been announced in the past two weeks, including 120 at Jabil Circuit, 57 at Wachovia and 325 at the Lear Corp. plant in Tampa. The state's next jobless report is due Sept. 19.

The layoffs are also more bad news from WellCare, the state's largest provider of Medicaid and the Healthy Kids program for low-income children. The FBI raided its Tampa headquarters last October, and its top executives quit in January. The company announced in May that it was eliminating 208 jobs, followed by an announcement in July that an "accounting error" showed it owed $46.5-million to several states, including Florida. In August, the company agreed to pay $35.2-million as part of a Medicaid fraud investigation. Its shares, which traded at more than $116 last October, have been trading around $42 this week.

Asjylyn Loder can be reached at aloder@sptimes.com or (813) 225-3117.

WellCare to cut 100 Medicaid marketing, sales jobs 09/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:40pm]

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