Colorado Senate panel OKs full health exchange audit, bonus review


A state Senate committee gave a preliminary green light Wednesday to an in-depth audit and bonus reviews for the state’s healthcare marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado.

A limited legislative audit released in December found Connect for Health hadn’t “sufficiently insured” millions of public dollars were spent according to both federal and its own rules. And last year, former Connect for Health CEO Patty Fontneau received a $14,000 bonus last year, on top of a nearly $191,000 salary.

Now lawmakers want a full audit of the exchange. Connect for Health's interim CEO said that the exchange supports the audit.

The audit was a priority for Republicans last year, but the proposal failed amid concerns that the exchange had already been audited and that an extra audit would be needless.

But the GOP now controls the Senate and the audit bill unanimously passed a Senate health committee. Now it moves on to the full Senate.

“I do look forward to the exchange being more straightforward because I’ve been unsatisfied with how that has occurred in the past, but there’s new management and I trust we can have a better system in place,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.

However, the bill which would give legislative review of bonuses at the state healthcare exchange proved more controversial. The Health and Human Services Committee passed the bill on a 3-2 party-line vote.

Republican Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa said Wednesday that the performance of the exchange didn’t warrant awarding a bonus.

“We are the guardians of the taxpayer purse. And I just believe the bonuses are adverse to that. I think we've got to take a leadership role and try and straighten some of this stuff out.”

Critics say the bill is unnecessary and cumbersome, and other boards can already provide oversight.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.