GOP bill blocks pay hike for ObamaCare officials

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) proposed legislation on Monday that would prevent the federal government from giving bonuses or raises to people who run state-level health insurance exchanges under ObamaCare.

Gardner's bill, H.R. 3679, is a response to a recent effort by Patty Fontneau, who runs Colorado's health insurance exchange, to get a raise and bonus. Gardner said Fontneau is seeking a raise even though the Colorado exchange is far behind its enrollment target so far this year.

The Denver Post reported just 6,000 Coloradans were signed up through mid-November, even though the exchange expected that enrollment of 11,000 people would be a worst-case scenario.

"While hundreds of thousands of Coloradans were dealing with cancellation and rate increase notices in October, the CEO of Connect for Health Colorado seemingly had more pressing concerns at hand — making sure that her taxpayer-funded salary grew even larger," Gardner said late last week.

In the first few years, the salaries of state exchanges are paid via federal grants, which means a raise would come through the federal government. Fontneau's current salary is $190,000, but Gardner said her failure so far means it's unclear whether the exchange would be viable once those federal grants end.

"Connect for Health Colorado's inability to meet the lowest target enrollment numbers calls into question the exchange's ability to even fund itself when federal grants run dry in 2016," he said. "Those running the exchanges need to put more effort into raising enrollment numbers, and less time figuring out how to make more taxpayer money."

Late last week, The Denver Post reported that Fontneau backed away from her request for a raise, and said she wanted to focus on increasing enrollments.