A CBS News Colorado investigation found that Colorado Connect for Health provided money to certain political organizations, financed political events such as galas, and helped some political organizations raise funds, and two state senators are calling for a The organization conducts audits.
Connect for Health receives millions of dollars in direct and indirect taxpayer funding. Not only did the Legislature appropriate funds, but insurance companies made donations to nonprofit organizations in lieu of paying premium taxes. It also collects health care premiums when it sells policies.
Its 2023 budget is $52 million, a 9% increase from last year, with its CEO admitting that some of the money was mistakenly going to left-leaning political interest groups including ProgressNow.
The liberal advocacy group celebrated its 20th anniversary with a $250-a-person gala at Casa Bonita. Nearly all of the state’s top elected Democrats attended the event, whose sponsors included a handful of left-leaning organizations as well as Connect for Health; a group that is supposed to be nonpartisan.
“It makes no sense to hold a fundraising gala for an overtly political organization,” said Republican state Sen. Jim Smallwood. He is a member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and introduced a bill last year to provide Connect for Health an additional $4 million for education and outreach rather than political pageantry. “I think it’s a little bit of a stretch to try to make the argument that supporting a political gala or fundraiser is somehow helping to educate and inform the public. To me, that sounds a little bit far-fetched.”
ProgressNow isn’t the only left-leaning group to accept donations from Connect for Health.
In the past few years, it has also sponsored the Colorado Immigrant Rights Alliance’s block party, Southern Colorado Equality Alliance’s Pueblo Pride Festival, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Young Invincibles’ Changemakers, led by Democrats’ wives. Party. State representative who co-chairs the House Health and Insurance Committee.
“I’m not going to try to get out of this. I’m going to tell the truth,” Connect for Health CEO Kevin Patterson told CBS News Colorado.
Patterson called the sponsorship a mistake: “We have a group of people working in this area who tend to partner with these organizations to host events, and I think that may be part of the connection, but I think you can hold me accountable for that decision. ”
Patterson said he’s not sure how much money Connect for Health has donated to political groups like ProgressNow — ProgressNow’s gala received a $1,000 donation — but said it won’t happen again: “I acknowledge that A mistake was made and we as an organization have taken action and today we have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.”
Smallwood and Republican state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer, a member of the health oversight committee, also plan to ensure an end to political sponsorships. They will request a review of Connect for Health.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, donations may not be made to political entities or risk losing its non-profit status.
While some groups that received funds did some health care outreach, one of the donations was to an organization called The Steady, which trains Democratic candidates and campaign staff.
Enrollment opens Nov. 1 to people who buy health insurance on state exchanges.