March 21 2014
Colorado’s Health Exchange: A High-Priced Drama Production
Jillian Kay Melchior
It pays to work at Colorado’s health exchange, the Denver Post reports:
One-fifth of the employees of Colorado’s health care exchange made more than $100,000 a year in salary and bonuses. . . . And nearly half of the 36 exchange employees make more than $80,000 a year.
The exchange also provides a lucrative retirement plan, contributing as much as 10 percent of an employee’s salary for retirement.
The salaries and retirement benefits for Colorado’s exchange employees are funded primarily with federal tax dollars.
Executive director Patty Fontneau took home $190,549 last year — which “is higher than that of three similar state exchanges examined by the Denver Post and also exceeds most of Colorado’s state department heads.” Despite receiving a $5,000 raise in 2012, Fontneau also requested another pay hike last year.
Meanwhile, a new batch of e-mails obtained by the political blog CompleteColorado.com seem to show Senator Mark Udall pressuring the state’s Department of Insurance to low-ball the numbers for how many Coloradans had seen their health coverage canceled.
The Department of Insurance had estimated 250,000 people had lost coverage, but Udall’s office wanted that number downgraded to 73,000 after Coloradans were offered replacement plans. From CompleteColorado.com:
In a portion of an email sent by the DOI’s Director of External Affairs, Jo Donlin said:
“Udall is broad brushing and assuming that because Anthem and Kaiser offered early renewals, the people who received that option after receiving a cellation [sic] notice should not be counted. Commissioner Salazar would like to tell Sen. Udall that 250,000 people were in fact affected by cancellation notices.”
An earlier CompleteColorado.com story reported:
Donlin bluntly stated to her colleagues: “Sen. Udall says our numbers were wrong. They are not wrong. Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people. They want to trash our numbers. I’m holding strong while we get more details. Many have already done early renewals. Regardless, they received cancellation notices.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.