More than half of the people working for the new state agency charged with providing health insurance for Massachusetts’ low-income residents make more than $100,000 a year — and six earn more than Gov. Deval Patrick.
The Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector’s executive director, Jon Kingsdale, earns $225,000 annually. Deputy director Rosemarie Day receives $175,500.
Twelve of the Connector’s 22 employees make more than $100,000. Patrick makes $140,535 a year.
“I am going to call in the director and find out where they’re spending the money,” House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi told The Boston Globe. “We don’t want administrative costs to be too high. We want the money spent efficiently.”
Richard Powers, the Connector’s director of public affairs, said the salaries reflected the employees’ abilities. Most have an extensive background in the health insurance industry, and five of eight senior staff members make less than in their previous jobs, he said.
The state’s universal health care law was approved last year to provide affordable coverage to about 500,000 uninsured residents. All adults must have insurance coverage by July 1 or pay a penalty, unless they prove they can’t afford it.
Salaries for Connector employees initially are being paid by a $25 million appropriation by the Legislature, but eventually will be funded by insurance companies through premium surcharges.
“If they’re paying large salaries, the $25 million isn’t going to last long,” said state Sen. Richard Moore, who helped shepherd the bill through the Legislature.
John McDonough, executive director of the advocacy group Health Care for All, said the compensation was not too high.
“Compared to what people make in state government, these salaries are high, but not compared to what comparable people make in a commercial insurance world,” he said. “If they didn’t pay these salaries, I don’t believe they would be getting the quality people they need to do this highly complex operation.”
But McDonough said he worried about the system’s sustainability.
“The whole structure is fraught with uncertainty,” he said.
Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/globe
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