Watchdog: Follow the Money

Despite Obamacare's woes, many high-ranking CMS employees got raises, data show

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Despite controversial delays in Obamacare and costly problems with its healthcare.gov website, most officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were paid more last year than the year before, newly released data show.

CMS, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is the federal government's ground zero in launching and managing Obamacare.

Data obtained by the Washington Examiner through a Freedom of Information Act request showed CMS employed at least 522 people at the federal government's highest rating, GS-15, and other senior-level civil service employees in 2013, an increase of 53 over the previous year.

The total cost of the CMS payroll data released to the Examiner increased to more than $76 million, compared to $69 million in 2012.

Senior CMS employees made at least $113,000 or more, according to the data.

Of the nearly 400 people in the data who worked with CMS in 2012 and who remained with the agency last year, nearly half got raises, with the average raise being worth $4,706, the data shows. Of those who got raises, their average pay rose from $147,279 to $149,289, a raise of about 1.4 percent.

The justification for the raises was not clear from the data. Federal workers have not gotten cost-of-living adjustment raises since 2010.

One CMS executive — Corey B. Stevenson, who is head of the agency's enterprise data center group — received a pay hike of about nine percent, worth $13,036. He made $157,421 in 2013, compared to $144,385 the previous year.

The two highest-paid CMS employees in the data, Michael T. Rapp and Paul E. McGann, who told the title of "supervisory medical officer" and who are both physicians, both were paid $201,913 annually.

In 2013, there were seven other "supervisory medical officers," who each made anywhere from $127,883 to $196,913.

The CMS FOIA office refused to include performance bonuses in the data provided to the Examiner, claiming a privacy exemption.

The agency did not provide details on every CMS employee who fell under the scope of the FOIA request made by the Examiner. For instance, more than a dozen CMS employees whose names appeared on an internal document showing "key federal I.T. staff" for the healthcare.gov project were not listed in the salary data the agency released to the Examiner.

Henry Chao, "deputy director of the office of information," for example, made $163,052 in both 2012 and 2013.

In late 2013, Politico reported that Chao was not only involved in making key decisions leading up to the healthcare.gov rollout, but he was behind the "troubled launch of the Medicare prescription drug benefit."

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