Connect For Health Colorado, the state-run health care exchange set up under Obamacare, will spend some $4 million in the coming year to convince Latinos to enroll through the program, even though exchange managers have no idea whether Latinos are underrepresented among their existing customers.
While the health-care exchange collects demographic data, no one has analyzed it, according to the Denver Post. Exchange managers are just assuming that fewer Latinos have signed up because that’s what independent studies have shown. The money will also be used to target young people and other specific demographic groups without knowing who among them have already enrolled.
The Post reported that the exchange hasn’t performed “basic analysis” of its own data to determine whether the $4 million expense is justified.
“The only way to be successful is to execute well and be transparent,” board member Ellen Daehnick told the paper, adding that she feels the exchange’s top leaders have kept the board of directors at “arm’s length.”
“There’s no leadership and minimal information sharing,” she said.
The exchange is also planning to spend as much as $14 million on its call center, but again, it hasn’t analyzed which calls take up the majority of phone operators’ time.
The health-care exchange is beginning to phase out its reliance on federal grants with the goal of being self-sustainable through fees applied to policies purchased through the exchange. But facing a shortfall, the board recently approved a plan to tack fees onto all insurance policies sold throughout the state, including those that didn’t come through the exchange.
Daehnick was the only board member to vote against the exchange’s upcoming budget, telling the Post that she didn’t have enough information about how the money will be spent to make a decision.
“We’re talking about a lot of tax money,” she said. “The people of Colorado really deserve better.”
Cammie Blais, the exchange’s CFO, told the Post that the staff was busy with other matters, like the upcoming November open enrollment, but that it was analyzing its data as quickly as possible.
She said the exchange hired outside experts to identify call center operations that need attention and that, once the numbers are crunched, staffers will know best how to target funds.
“We will continue to analyze as we gather more data,” she said. “There’s a ton of key things we’re looking at and gathering data.”
Lawmakers have called for an extensive audit of Connect For Health Colorado’s expenditures, but Democrats in the state legislature killed the idea in committee earlier this year. The committee chairwoman at the time said she was “exceedingly impressed” with the exchange’s transparency and that an audit would be a distraction from its focus on enrolling new customers.
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