Gov. Kitzhaber trying to shift responsibility for Cover Oregon

Dennis Richardson 2013_thb

by Rep. Dennis Richardson

Recently in the Oregon Capitol I joined the Joint Committee on Legislative Audits, Information Management and Technology for a report on Cover Oregon.  The key speaker of the hearing was Governor John Kitzhaber.  Kitzhaber testified that he and the legislature had been deceived by Oracle, the state’s primary I.T. contractor, and that he was requesting the Oregon Attorney General to consider suing Oracle to “recover the people’s investment in Cover Oregon.” In addition, he testified that Cover Oregon has “exceeded its enrollment targets.”

The report he gave shifted responsibility rather than offering Oregonians a true picture of who is to blame. Here’s why:

1. Kitzhaber: I didn’t know there were problems with Cover Oregon until after it failed.

Facts: Last January Kitzhaber told a KATU TV reporter that he knew nothing about the problems with Cover Oregon until October 2013, sometime after the October 1, 2013 launch date had come and gone. As a result of the Governor’s statement, KATU obtained copies of then State Representative Patrick Sheehan’s December 2012 and my September 2012 warnings to the Governor. Note that these warnings were sent to the Governor more than a year before the launch date of this debacle. Subsequently, KATU aired a prime time expose’ proving the Governor’s statement was untrue.

2. Kitzhaber: Cover Oregon has exceeded enrollment targets.

Facts: Cover Oregon was originally called the Oregon Health Exchange (HIX). The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) required each state to have an internet website where individual health insurance policies could be reviewed, compared and purchased. States had the option of either developing their own exchanges or participating in a “federal health exchange.” Oregon was one of 14 states that accepted federal grants to develop its own individual health insurance policy exchange. In contrast to the Oregon Health Exchange, there is the Oregon Health Plan.   Since the Oregon Health Plan was enacted in 1993, state health agencies have routinely determined eligibility for and enrolled qualified Oregonians into federal Medicaid—the federal health plan for low income individuals. The state Medicaid program is now run by the Oregon Health Authority.

After Cover Oregon’s failure in its mission of enrolling individuals into private health insurance policies and its determination that most Cover Oregon applicants actually qualified for free Medicaid health care, Cover Oregon increased its efforts to assist the Oregon Health Authority in signing up qualifying citizens for Medicaid – but again, there were notable failures. According to an Oregonian article nearly 4,000 undocumented residents were signed up for Medicaid. Although the number of Oregonians enrolled for Medicaid by both the Oregon Health Authority and Cover Oregon (338,726), far exceeded the anticipated number (200,000 plus), the number of individual health policies enrolled by Cover Oregon (83,852) was much less than the numbers originally targeted by Cover Oregon (which ranged from a low projection of 94,405 to a high projection of 206,937). When the facts about the enrollment numbers are known, the Governor’s statement about Cover Oregon exceeding its target is untrue.

3. Kitzhaber: The failure of Cover Oregon is Oracle’s fault and the state should sue Oracle to recover the public’s investment.

Facts: The Governor’s impassioned accusation of Oracle is all hat and no cattle. It was the Governor’s appointees and their staff who signed a “time and materials” contract with Oracle instead of a contract where payment was based on performance and outcomes. In other words, “time and materials” means the state pays for the time (hours) worked, regardless of what the contractor may or may not produce. The state agency staff were simply out of their league when they decided to run the Cover Oregon project themselves. An experienced “Systems Integrator” should have been hired instead. The Governor ignored repeated warnings from Maximus, the Quality Assurance team, and from me as Co-Chair of the legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee. According to KATU, Oregon Health Authority managers even edited a Maximus report to delete a warning from Maximus that there was no way to “conclude that the current governance structure is adequate or effective.”

For two years Oracle’s invoices were paid by the state without reference to actual outcomes obtained.  Now, more than six months after the failed launch date and more than $130 million in contract programming, Governor Kitzhaber is demanding the Attorney General sue Oracle.

Oregonians deserve an honest report from their Chief Executive. The truth is that it wasn’t Oracle’s fault – it was the fault of bureaucrats at Cover Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority and the Governor’s office who directed Oracle’s work, then refused to change course when warned. And now the Federal Government is knocking on the Governor’s door. The FBI has issued subpoenas for several top officials, including the Governor’s Chief of Staff – which has taken this failure to a potentially criminal investigation.

There has been an avalanche of resignations at the top – including one that continues to draw a salary of more than $14,000 per month. There’s simply nobody left to blame but the Governor. To place this failure on a programming contractor who was working at the direction of a state agency is simply a cover-up. I’m disappointed that the Governor’s testimony didn’t offer Oregonians an honest account of what went wrong, or a real path to correct course.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn Post to Reddit

Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Cover Oregon, Gov. Kitzhaber, Obamacare, Oregon Health Authority | 19 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • No fourth term please

    John Kitzhaber has more covering his behind, e.g., PERSified state police bodyguards, than he’s really showing up front. D’oh, this phallic governor can hardly do better butt to reveal his package to Bud Clarks mute stoic angel on Broadway, that is if Cylvia approves.

  • actionsspeaklouder

    The lies being told by democrats from Obama on down are despicable. Wake up people!

    • nadiasindi

      actionsspeaklouder & all, you haven’t see what Rep. Oregon A.G. Dave Frohnmayer how much he tells a lie and committing crimes without being held accountable.

      I hope & pray former Oregon A.G. David Frohnmayer will also be investigated soon by the FBI!! Frohnmayer has committed more crimes than any elected or non elected officials!!

      All Lane County government are complicit with him!!

      Frohnmayer is preventing me getting hired, made me homeless! Forged my sister’s signature, put a lien on my fully paid Condo, sold it

      He is charging $550.00 an hour and his law firm Harragn, Long, Gary, Rudnick the D.A. of Lane County, the City Attorney, and the University of Oregon too!!

      Frohnmayer has committed a fraudulent crime and a felony by forging my sister’s signature, sold our fully paid Condominium after he put a lien on it!!

      Please sign both petitions with and with Causes too.

      And this one with Causes too. Thanks!

      • T. Partee

        Oregon’s justice system will attend your allegations attending Frohnmayer sooner than Kitzhaber’s sublime bovine scatolgy. Why? The current AG is just as corrupted as the current and previous SOS as well as a plethora of gubernatorial judicial appointees since 1988.
        Hang in there, your time’s coming sooner if you are given to believe all the political salami passed out by DEM left wing GliberalCrats.

        • nadiasindi

          The current A.G. was endorsed by the evil thief, above the law Frohnmayer! He crossed the line of his his party to endorsed her, after he got rid of the decent former A.G. John Kroger!

          • .

            Kroger you say, better than Harl Haas and other legal DEMonstratives???
            Holy bull puckering a cow’s posterior monsieur, Kroger has more warts than a Cane Toad roaming the Reed College campus sensing the toady estrous and or dope smoke arising from enrolled specimens.

    • guest

      Especially Merkley’s-malarkey vicarious adds now puk”n airwaves, alas, sewn to get even michael moore sophomoric approaching the Senatorial selection in November ’14.

  • davidg

    Sue Oracle? This could be launching a dangerous boomerang. Oracle will surely countersue for unpaid fees. We have not heard Oracle’s side of this debacle yet, but Dennis Richardson’s comments here tell us that Oracle will have plenty of ammunition to fight back with.

    Hopefully this lawsuit threat is just the governor’s election year grandstanding. The attorney general will likely let this dangerous proposal die while he does his own “investigation.” Why would the AG rely on Kit’s opinion anyway? Kit hasn’t been right about anything to do with Cover Oregon so far.

    • Jack Lord God

      Oregon isn’t going to sue. If they do, then all the evidence of the states mismanagement will be on the table. No way Kitzhaber wants that one brought to the surface.

      What will happen is a lot of chest pounding. Then Kitzhaber will likely get a settlement from Oracle without trial.

      Why will Oracle pay? Because Kitzhaber will give them a bigger contract for some BS project to offset the cost.

      In other words. Say Oracle pays $50M. Kitzhaber will ballyhoo how he looked out for the taxpayer. Once re elected, Kitzhaber will hand them a contract maybe to do a Photoshop rendering of a new light rail project and pay them $80M for the deal.

      Kitzhaber gets to shift blame and gets re elected, Oracle makes more money, the taxpayer gets screwed. Sound about right?

      • Job One

        OMG, JLG write on!

  • Jack Lord God

    ” I didn’t know there were problems with Cover Oregon until after it failed.”

    This is absolute BS. Aside from the fact that there are numerous instances of documented warnings to Kitzhaber, there is also the fact that this was a huge and notable project within Oregon. It was also about a subject, health care, that the Governor has, for three terms running, said is a number one issue for him. What the hell are we paying him for if he isn’t checking up on very basic stuff like this?

    “Cover Oregon has exceeded enrollment targets.”

    Signing up a bunch of people using paper and pencil for welfare benefits (Medicaid) is not much of an accomplishment. Plus, whaddaya bet that of those that actually paid for coverage, the number of those that have actually made payments is just as ethereal as the Federal website numbers on the matter?

    “The failure of Cover Oregon is Oracle’s fault and the state should sue Oracle to recover the public’s investment.”

    Bullshit. Oracle is a gigantic corporation that regularly turns a profit. Oregon is a gigantic beuracracy with a history of regularly screwing up projects like this (see Jane Cease, DMV computer project). Are we to believe a profitable company that regularly delivers the goods screwed up? Or are we to beleive that a governor, with a history of screwing up projects like this, the DMV, who admits freely he wasn’t paying attention to what was going on…is it more likely Kitzhaber and the state or Oregon screwed up?

    This is utterly ridiculous. I am so sick of the Obama excuse “gee, I don’t know anything, I wasn’t paying attention”. Blind drunk across from the table I could make Kitzhaber look like an idiot with these lame excuses of his.

    I would love just half an hour with him in front of a bar full of people question him and show how absurd his excuses are.

    The only thing more aggravating than the fact that there is zero accountability in government for this kind of crap is that Kitzhaber is going to waltz right back into office because a bunch of brain dead idiots will say “uh yeah, he isn’t that great but better than a Republican any day”.

  • CherryAnn1000

    Methinks our illustrious gov hath serious credibility issues. Good.

    • Jack Lord God

      Very serious.

      Oregon Health Plan – Great idea, and an enlightened approach in concept. Implementation? Yep, screwed up.

      DMV Computer System – Put’s a certified nitwit, Jane Cease in charge, runs the bill way over budget with most of the work being scrapped. Screw up number two.

      Columbia River Crossing – Hundreds of millions wasted on studying a project to build a bridge with no more lanes than the existing one. Spending that kind of money on an idea that stupid is criminal. Screw up number three

      Cover Oregon – Warned repeatedly the project was doomed. “Gee, I don’t know anything” is the lame excuse given. Screw up Number four.

      Screw up number five will not be Kitzhabers, but the people of Oregon. This guy is going to walk out, do the denim cowboy good looking routine in election season, and waltz right back into office by a landslide. Half the votes will be bought an paid for union members, the other half will be brain dead idiots who think this level of incompetence isn’t that bad.

      • guest


  • Sally

    This guy’s blame shifting is on automatic!!! Man up you blue jean wearing little guy.

    • Lay down, no, bury Sally

      Pitchfork you louse all hamerikin tallyboner!

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Oregon Catalyst through daily email updates:

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)