The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) has hired more than 1,600 new employees in the aftermath of Obamacare’s passage.
The new employees include just two described as “consumer safety” officers, but 86 tasked with “criminal investigating” – indicating that the agency is building an army of detectives to sleuth out violations of a law that many in Congress who supported it still find confusing.
On the day President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, HHS received authority from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to make as many as 1,814 new hires under an emergency “Direct Hiring Authority” order.
The Obama administration ordered that employment expansion despite a government-wide hiring freeze.
A total of 1,684 of those positions were filled and the new employees’ salaries alone cost the U.S. at least $138.8 million every year.
The hiring began in May 2010 and continued through June 2013, making the later hires eligible for higher salaries as a result of annual cost-of-living increases.
The difference between what HHS spent on new Obamacare-related employees and what it was authorized to spend is explained by its failure to hire most of the 261 “consumer safety officers” it was authorized to bring aboard. Only two such employees were hired.
But while OPM authorized HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Denise Carter – later renamed Denise Wells – to hire 50 criminal investigators, the agency increased that number to 86 on its own.
The lowest salary on the list was for a single contracting officer at Grade 7, Step 1, an annual rate of about $42,350, including a so-called “differential” payments. Those increases are given to all federal employees in order to adjust for regional cost-of-living differences.
The highest salary in 2010 dollars, including that differential payment, was about $161,450, earned by a total of 29 new employee. They include health insurance administrators, contracting officers and information technology managers.
The fleet of 86 new criminal investigators are earning a range of compensation between $51,800 and $89,350, according to the 2010 salary tables and differential payment guidelines.