“What $4 million?”

Is it just us here at the Peak, or is Connect for Health Colorado pretty much openly mocking Colorado legislators now?  First, came the revelation that C4HCO officials lied to legislators when they testified earlier this year that they were being audited by the federal government; then, it was revealed, despite a disastrous roll-out C4HCO CEO, Patty Fontneau, received a pay raise and a five-figure bonus; now, according to meetings C4HCO had with their board last week, we get a real glimpse at how truly messed up their whole operation is.  From Katie Kerwin McCrimmon at Health News Colorado:

Colorado’s exchange managers have triggered confusion among their own finance committee board members on the eve of a critical vote Monday over future spending and revenues.

Health News Colorado on Thursday reported that board members were concerned that exchange managers had spent $10 million over the past year to sign up about 8,000 people through face-to-face enrollment centers.

On Friday morning, Connect for Health Colorado managers said they actually expect to spend about $6.6 million on the assistance sites this fiscal year, which extends through the end of June.

One of three board members on the finance committee, Fallon said he repeatedly has asked for details on the spending.

“I keep asking for more transparency and follow-through on that network and they keep saying it’s coming. I don’t know how cost-effective it is. Unfortunately, the ACA (the Affordable Care Act) says the assistance networks must exist.” [the Peak emphasis]

C4HCO wants Coloradans to believe they don’t need to be audited by Colorado legislators, yet their very own finance board members can’t even get straight numbers from them.  This sounds like the very definition of an organization that needs to be audited.

Board member Ellen Daehnick… [is] mystified by the shift from the $10 million figure on Thursday to $6.6 million on Friday.

“In yesterday’s finance committee discussion, the number that the Connect for Health staff presented to the board members for the expenditures on the assistance center last year was $10 million. It’s on page 6,” Daehnick said referring to a presentation a staff member made.

“That’s the number we used when we discussed it. No one from the Connect staff offered any correction during the meeting,” Daehnick said.

…Daehnick has been increasingly frustrated with how few answers she and fellow board members get from exchange staffers.

The senior leadership of Connect needs to get their numbers straight before they come to the board and ask for budget expenditures.”

…“It makes it almost impossible for me to evaluate any budget request from the staff if the numbers presented aren’t accurate in the first place,” she said. [the Peak emphasis]

That would be the same senior leadership led by Fontneau and her five-figure bonus.

It should be extremely disconcerting to all Colorado politicians, and to all Coloradans, that C4HCO doesn’t have its budget numbers in order, especially as they are already proposing additional fees, and higher transaction rates because they say they are financially unsustainable right now.  Yet, much to everyone’s surprise, $4 million magically appeared out of nowhere.  Colorado legislators must demand Gov. John Hickenlooper holds C4HCO accountable until they are able to pass an audit bill in the next session.