Colo. health care exchange CEO backs away from raise request

Politics

Patti Fontneau, now the CEO of Colorado’s health care exchange, testifying before lawmakers at the Capitol.

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DENVER — The CEO of Colorado’s new health care exchange backed away from her request for an end of year bonus, after its reporting by the Denver Post sparked a small backlash this week.

The website, Connect For Health Colorado, has fallen well short of its targets, enrolling 9,980 people in the first two months, less than half of its initial baseline goal of 22,215.

So when CEO Patti Fontneau’s request to the exchange’s board for an end of year bonus was leaked to the Denver Post’s Allison Sherry, whose report this week noted Fontneau’s $190,549 taxpayer-funded salary, the outrage from conservatives already laser-focused on Obamacare’s failures, was fast and furious.

“While hundreds of thousands of Coloradans were dealing with cancellation and rate increase notices in October, the CEO of Connect for Health Colorado seemingly had more pressing concerns at hand – making sure that her taxpayer-funded salary grew even larger,” said Congressman Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, in a statement.

“In the private sector, increases in compensation are determined by an employee’s ability to do their job and meet performance standards set by their employer; those running state exchanges must not be given special treatment.”

On Friday, just as Sherry followed up with another report that Gardner, a vocal critic of Obamacare, plans to introduce legislation Monday aimed at preventing all state exchange CEOs from getting bonuses of raises, Fontneau issued a statement saying she’s backed away from her request.

“The attention about my compensation has been a distraction at a time when we are all focused on helping Coloradans enroll in health coverage,” Fontneau said.

“To a person, my staff and team of contractors have worked tirelessly to launch and improve our health insurance marketplace and I am proud of their accomplishments, especially amid many external challenges.While we have much more work to do to improve our operations, we are encouraged to see that enrollments are hitting record levels.

“We have asked the Board to table any discussions about compensation for management, so that we can focus on enrollments during this critical time.”

Connect For Health Colorado set a one-day record on Wednesday, with 1,090 people signing up for new health insurance plans.

Coloradans have until Dec. 23 to purchase coverage that will take effect on Jan. 1. The open enrollment period continues into March; only those who are uninsured after March 31 will be eligible to face fines for not having coverage.

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