“$26M? $66M? Honest mistake, I forgot to carry a two.”

PeakNation™, if an audit bill for Connect for Health Colorado isn’t one of the very first bills introduced next Colorado legislative session, then start sharpening your pitchforks, and lighting your torches (or the modern-day equivalent: buying posterboards, sharpies, and glitter).

Last week we got a hint of how fast and loose C4HCO is with its numbers; this week they must have decided, “F-this, let’s go for broke.”  After spending the last several months claiming their budget would be an “easily sustainable” $26 million dollars that wouldn’t need “high fees,” the budget approved this week for next year came in at an eye-gouging, teeth-gnashing $66 million.  Or, in every man, non-bureaucratic terms: way too damn high.  To top it off, a new $13 million in fees will be assessed to Colorado health insurance plans, of which, a full 85% of the plans have nothing to do with the exchanges.  Talk about a backdoor tax.

What has got to be most discouraging to Coloradans everywhere is the justification given to this absurd 150% inflation to last year’s budget.  As Katie Kerwin McCrimmon for Health News Colorado reports:

[They] have vowed to reduce costs to about $26 million in future years.

… Fallon wanted the board to consider lower fees, but Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar said she would have supported higher fees.

“We’re still building this airplane,” Salazar said. “Now would not be the time to go lean. We can always do that later … We have a chance to make this a robust, real successful exchange.”

Fallon responded that “this is somebody else’s money.”

… Many of the board members said they wanted to be sure that Connect for Health Colorado had enough money to succeed… [the Peak emphasis]

How many bureaucratic enterprises do you know of PeakNation™ that manage to go “lean” later?  This is the classic liberal, Democratic, big-government scam, where budgets are “temporarily” inflated (*cough* stimulus *cough*), yet when legislators try to cut the budgets later, bureaucrats scream bloody murder that their budgets are being cut by over XX%.  Next year, we look forward to C4HCO CEO Patty Fontneau claiming economic hardship when what was suppose to be the original $26 million budget suddenly becomes a 60% cut to her current $66 million budget.  That’s the inherent flaw of government programs: they only grow bigger and never shrink.  Now, there’s no guarantee that Colorado legislators auditing the exchanges would check this tendency, but it is certainly better than nothing.

Meanwhile, the fabulous utopia that Sen. Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper promised that would come with the exchange has yet to materialize.  And, despite it being Salazar’s favorite metaphor, someone needs to inform her, there’s a reason Boeing would never build a plane in the air.  Wethinks it’s not the best branding move to keep comparing your bureaucratic endeavor to something that can only end in fiery death and carnage.