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Obamacare: State Dems' Worst Nightmare

June 18, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

As the bad news about Obamacare’s federal operations keeps on coming, it’s worth keeping in mind that the law is a mess at the state level as well.

The big question will be whether the failures will hurt Democratic state politicians as much as Obamacare appears likely to drag down national Democrats. Most of the 17 states that chose to set up and operate their own Obamacare exchanges are deep-blue states, where Democratic governors and legislators see few serious challenges to their power. Yet, the level of corruption and incompetence — not to mention the cost to taxpayers — is so outrageous that, even in these Democratic bastions, it might give voters pause.

Troubles with liberal states’ exchanges are dragging down their Democratic governors.”

Among the most egregious examples:

In Colorado, the original director of the state exchange, Christa Ann McClure, was placed on administrative leave after news leaked out that she had been indicted for stealing while serving as executive director of the federally funded Housing Montana. At that agency, she paid herself “significant sums” for consulting services even though she was already on the payroll as a full-time employee. The indictment also alleged that she “made payments to her family and used federal money for personal travel, to pay family bills and to buy consulting services.”

Meanwhile, Colorado’s exchange struggled to meet minimum enrollment goals. Undeterred by mediocre performance and prior mismanagement, the exchange board voted to give new CEO Patty Fontneau a $14,000 bonus last year along with a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise, making her the third most highly paid manager of a state health exchange in the country, behind only California and Connecticut.

At the same time they’re getting bonuses and raises, exchange officials are trying to figure out how to squeeze enough revenue from state taxpayers to finance the exchange when initial federal grants run dry. The Colorado exchange currently charges customers a 1.4 percent user fee, and it will likely have to be increased. Some officials want to charge everyone with health insurance in the state, not just exchange enrollees, to the tune of $13 million in fees in both 2015 and 2016.

Incumbent governor John Hickenlooper has managed to dodge the fallout so far. But even a weak Republican — former congressman Tom Tancredo — is still within striking distance.

Despite a two-week delay in opening, the state’s exchange operated so poorly …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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