In yet another example of ObamaCare’s exploding costs, Colorado’s health insurance exchange — believed by state legislators to be “the leanest, most cost effective exchange in the country” — is quickly burning through $61 million in federal funds and is considering asking for over twice as much again from Uncle Sam.
According to the Denver Post, during a May 6 meeting of the Connect for Health Colorado board, which oversees the exchange, consumer groups and liberal board members argued that the money is needed both to establish the infrastructure of the exchange and to educate the public about it. Conservatives, on the other hand, were critical of the request to soak taxpayers for another $125 million, especially for “outreach.”
“The size of this grant leaves me fairly speechless,” state Rep. Bob Gardner, a Republican, said during a May 7 meeting of a special legislative committee. “Frankly, we were given to understand that we were running the leanest, most cost effective exchange in the country, by any measure, and so it’s disappointing.”
“Just because funds are available doesn’t mean we should ask for them,” board member and physician Dr. Mike Fallon said. Fallon didn’t contest the need for more funding, but he did point out that “the trouble is, the money’s not free.”
Proponents of the grant request, by contrast, do seem to view money from Washington as free. They argue that the money will be spent in other states if Colorado doesn’t ask for it. “Plus,” reports Colorado Public Radio, “exchange executives say if they can’t cover all the start-up costs with federal grants, they’ll have to raise fees on customers, fees that are already set at a little under $22 per person per year.” Apparently they prefer foisting those costs onto others.
Board member Arnold Salazar dismissed conservatives’ complaints, saying, “We shouldn’t be victims to our ideology.” Salazar, notes the Post, “agreed with consumer groups that outreach spending is key and should remain high.” But Salazar also has a vested interest in getting as many people signed up for Medicaid — the other key “insurance” expansion in ObamaCare — as possible: His “group provides Medicaid mental-health services in southern Colorado,” says the paper.
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