The CEO of Colorado’s Obamacare exchange was given a $14,000 bonus and a 2.5 percent cost of living raise on Monday, even as the exchange struggles for ways to pay its bills in the coming years.
Patty Fontneau is now the third-highest paid director of a state-run Obamacare exchange, earning more than $195,300, according to Health News Colorado.
She raised hackles after her request for the raise and bonus came to light in October, when the exchange was performing miserably and not hitting even its worst-case scenario goals for enrollment.
Fontneau withdrew the request, but not before earning a rebuke from Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who the Denver Post said was “outraged.” In reaction to Fontneau’s request, Gardner even tried to block raises for any directors of state-run exchanges.
But a board member told the Denver Post that the performance bonus and raise was brought up again for consideration now that the open-enrollment period ended with 127,000 Coloradans signed up through it for health insurance.
That’s about 10,000 below the number that exchange managers estimated would be needed for it to be self-sustaining once federal dollars run out.
As a result, staff members have been proposing a variety of fee increases and other measures to keep the exchange afloat in 2015 and 2016. They include raising the per-customer fee of 1.4 percent paid by those who buy policies through the exchange, and another proposal to levy a fee on all insurance holders — regardless of whether the policy came from the exchange or not — to raise $13 million to cover the exchange’s expenses.
Earlier this year, Fontneau warned that “dramatic” cuts would be needed if fees aren’t raised.
Despite that, some board members praised her leadership and said she deserved the bonus and raise, which is tied to her performance prior to October, when the Affordable Care Act was rolled out. Some even said the bonus was too low.
“If this were my company, I would have given her a bigger bonus and a bigger raise,” board member Arnold Salazar is quoted as saying in the Post. “She pulled off an incredible job in record time under incredible pressure.”
All but two members of the board voted in favor of the salary package — one voted against it and another wasn’t present.
Not everyone was so delighted.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that Connect for Health is proposing huge user fees to Coloradans who are already paying too much under the president’s health care law, while handing out cash to their own executives,” Gardner wrote in an statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“In fact, I introduced legislation last December that would prevent this from happening,” he continued. “Federal grant funds, designated for establishing state-run exchanges, should not be doled out to state exchange chief executives. Connect for Health Colorado simply isn’t working with the best interest of Colorado in mind.”
Fontneau’s new salary makes her the third highest paid director of a state-run exchange, behind only California and Connecticut.
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