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U.S. President Barack Obama takes the stage to deliver remarks on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, at an Organizing for Action grassroots supporter event in Washington, November 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst U.S. President Barack Obama takes the stage to deliver remarks on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, at an Organizing for Action grassroots supporter event in Washington, November 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  

Despite dismal performance, Colorado’s Obamacare CEO wants a raise and a bonus

Update, Dec. 9: The CEO has withdrawn her request for a raise and bonus. Read the original story below.

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The CEO of Colorado’s state-run health-care exchange wants a hefty year-end bonus and a raise, even though the website has wholly failed to reach any of its enrollment goals, even those projected for a worst-case-scenario.

Patty Fontneau already earns more than $190,000 in salary paid for by taxpayer money. She’s asking for a 10-percent bonus and a three-percent pay raise, according to the Denver Post.

The request has outraged some Colorado Connect for Health board members who oversee the state-run Obamacare site and who are dismayed that only 9,980 people enrolled in private insurance since Oct. 1. That’s well below worst-case-scenario projections of over 11,000.

“Given the poor performance for the first two months of enrollments, I think it’s incredibly audacious for the executive director to request a salary increase,” Connect for Health Colorado board member Ellen Daehnick told the Post. “I think most people would feel like if you’re a CEO and you’re significantly underperforming the goals you helped set, then you layer on it that the money comes from public funds, and I think it’s highly inappropriate.”

Colorado was spared most of the technical glitches that bedeviled the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, with Connect for Health Colorado reporting that the website has been available 99.7 percent of the time since Oct. 1.

But many have experienced significant delays because of a complex Medicaid application that people who qualify for subsidized health care must compete — and be rejected for — before they can proceed with the rest of the process. Health-care managers have extended the deadline for enrollment to Dec. 23 to have coverage begin on Jan. 1.

According to Connect for Health Colorado statistics, the vast majority of new enrollees are older, with 61 percent falling between the ages of 45-65. The important 18-34 year old demographic — which was targeted by an independent group’s controversial “Brosurance” ads and which is necessary to keep premium costs low — only comprise 17 percent of new enrollees.

The state must enroll 136,300 people next year in order for the exchange to start paying for itself and it’s required to be self-sustaining by 2016, when the federal grant money currently paying the bills — and Fontneau’s salary — runs out.

Despite being far from its goals, Fontneau spun the dismal numbers as positive in a recent statement on the Connect for Health Colorado website.

“The pace of enrollments is increasing, including one day last week when close to 600 people signed up for private health insurance plans,” she’s quoted as saying. “We are making a strong push for enrollments in December and expect a busy month.”

Critics like Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s been vocal about his concerns with Obamacare in general, view the picture differently.

“There are significant concerns with how the exchange is working in Colorado. Is it sustainable going forward?” Gardner told the Post. “They are far below the projected enrollment numbers. People are not signing up for individual insurance plans at the rate they need to to make it sustainable.”

A decision hasn’t yet been made about Fontneau’s bonus request.

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