DENVER – Connect for Health Colorado on Tuesday accepted the resignation of director Christa Ann McClure who has been on paid administrative leave since February after confessing she was indicted on eight counts of theft and fraud in Montana.
McClure formerly served as director of a Montana Housing program, and is accused of bilking thousands of dollars from unsuspecting individuals who were seeking low-income housing.
The scandal compounds the problems of Connect for Health’s launch last year and continuing questions about its number of enrollees and victims of cancelled health insurance policies, finances, security systems and employee background checks.
Between 2008 to 2010, McClure allegedly charged $750 to unsuspecting homebuyers for nonexistent warranties, wrote herself a $21,000 check, and charged unknown sums for “consultant” work to Housing Montana although she was a full-time employee.
McClure pled not guilty to the embezzlement charges Feb. 6 in a federal district court in Billings, Montana, and faces trial June 23. If she is found guilty, McClure faces five to 20 years in prison for each count of fraud and embezzlement as well as a $250,000 fine.
Connect for Health Colorado, officially known as the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, hired McClure in March 2013 for the $130,000 director position. The exchange has maintained that McClure had been properly vetted, but it remains unclear as to what agency was hired to perform the background check.
Connect for Health Colorado stated that McClure was director of partner engagement, a position that holds “significant responsibility for advancing financial and strategic objectives of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange by managing and furthering the technical, financial and strategic relations between (the exchange) and our state and federal regulatory partners as well as other key relationship.”
The exchange told the state Legislative Audit Committee that McClure had no access to financial transactions or related information.
Legislation authorizing a finance and performance audit of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange was delayed in the House this week. A hearing set for Tuesday has been rescheduled for Thursday. A limited financial audit of statements and records is already underway.
Patty Fontneau, executive director of the exchange, has lobbied against a full audit stating that it is unnecessary because repeated reviews have been conducted by federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service.