Disastrous Cover Oregon Should Be Investigated

Disastrous Cover Oregon Should Be Investigated

first_img Twitter LinkedIn Disastrous Cover Oregon Should Be Investigated The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to Representative Greg Walden’s request to review Cover Oregon. It’s embarrassing enough that Oregon’s healthcare exchange is actually worse than the national Affordable Care Act website but millions of dollars have been spent on the Cover Oregon website and taxpayers have little to show for it. According to Walden, the GAO will take an independent look into what went wrong. They have a reputation for independence and thoroughness. Since 2010, Oregon has been allocated more than $304 million in federal grant dollars to build, test and operate the Cover Oregon health marketplace. Despite this investment, Oregonians largely remain unable to purchase health insurance coverage through the Cover Oregon marketplace website on their own. Each of the grants the state received had clear summaries describing how the funds were to be used and what Oregon would accomplish with these federal dollars. If the GAO finds that the state did not use the funds appropriately, it’s unclear who will pay for the damages.While the number of Oregonians signed up for more affordable coverage continues to grow, thousands of Oregonians have only been able to get health insurance by going around the exchange and directly to private insurers because of technical problems with the website. The Oregon House of Representatives approved a measure aimed at helping Oregonians who were impacted by the problems with the rollout of Cover Oregon. HB 4154 pushes for Oregonians to receive the tax help they deserve by directing the Cover Oregon board to seek federal insurance subsidies. (More money to be spent on the failing system!)The bill pushes to extend the individual enrollment deadline (now March 31, 2014) by an entire month in order to increase enrollment numbers and to secure tax credits for small businesses eligible for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). The bill also would extend existing whistleblower protections to employees of Cover Oregon and allow the governor to remove the entire Cover Oregon board of directors in a single year.Which leads us to wonder what the staff at Cover Oregon is doing to remedy this disaster. Interim Cover Oregon Director Dr. Bruce Goldberg announced an agreement with Oracle (the main culprit in bungling the website) that outlines an orderly transition of technology development services and protects current and future Cover Oregon enrollees. Oracle is the primary website vendor for Cover Oregon. Although Cover Oregon should not have been paying Oracle for a website that never worked, under the new agreement signed at the end of February, Cover Oregon will withhold $25.6 million of the $69.5 million Oracle has claimed for technology development work from November 2013 through February 28, 2014. Oracle agreed to not use the disputed amount as a reason to stop providing services during this open enrollment period.Most alarming is that while the new healthcare programs are managed by appointed paid federal and state directors, the true problems rest with the companies hired to implement these massive information technology projects. How can this be? We hold business in high regard, believing that they are well suited to implement their promised tasks. Not so though with Oracle and part of the problem lies with the way the contract with Oracle was prepared. Instead of using a performance based contract, Cover Oregon Executive Director Rocky King allowed the company to operate on a time and materials agreement. Fortunately King is no longer with Cover Oregon, but the damage has already been done.Oracle builds tools for database systems, like they were suppose to do for Cover Oregon. It has consistently missed deadlines  and conducted substandard work. Last May the state’s information technology expert with the Department of Administrative Services warned Cover Oregon that Oracle’s status reports on the exchange were non-compliant, omitted clear information, showed a lack of performance and did not fulfill basic standards of project management work. Cover Oregon staff and the governor’s office did not heed the warning. If you were running a company and your employees or subcontractors were performing substandard work you would fire them immediately. Why did Oregon hired Oracle in the first place when it has had numerous lawsuits filed against it on poorly delivered work?  Computer Sciences Corporation reportedly spent a billion dollars developing a computer system for the U.S. Air Force that yielded no significant capability.  According to Brig. Gen. Kathryn Johnson, the Air Force’s director of system integration, the Oracle software on which the system was based could not be adapted to meet the specialized performance criteria. In 2010 the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Oracle Corporation alleging fraud. The lawsuit argues that the government received deals inferior to those Oracle gave to its commercial clients. The 2011 settlement forced Oracle to pay $199.5 million to the GSA.  In 2012 the U.S. General Services Administration banned Oracle from the most popular portal for bidding on GSA contracts for undisclosed reasons. Oracle has previously used this portal for around four hundred million dollars a year in revenue. That same year Oracle lost lawsuits with HP, Google and Android. And yet the State of Oregon saw fit to hire a company with a very bad reputation of delivering quality work?Larry Ellison, a co-founder of Oracle, has served as Oracle’s CEO throughout its history. In 2008, the Associated Press ranked Ellison as the top-paid chief executive in the world. Ellison still needs to come to Oregon and fix his company’s mess at no cost to Oregon.Cover Oregon says it will convene a group that includes private sector technology experts to advise on the best options to move forward with the next phase of the website. The group will review options of retaining the part of the current technology that is working and contracting with a different developer for the next phases or build on the existing investment and incorporating technology from other states or the federal exchange.Cover Oregon is a disaster, the website barely works, the contractor basically was irresponsible and probably unethical and incompetent. And yet, if you want to sign up you have to do so by March 31 (or perhaps April 30 if the extension goes through). AND if you don’t, because it is mandated by the Affordable Care Act that requires all U.S. citizens to be enrolled in a health insurance plan nine out of 12 months during 2014, you’ll likely have to pay a fine for not having insurance.If you don’t now have insurance seek help from an insurance agent or community partner, like Healthy Beginnings (541-383-6357), to accomplish the entire enrollment process.  Currently, it is not possible to complete the entire process which includes application, eligibility, plan choice and enrollment by oneself through the website: www.Coveroregon.com  Only agents and community partners have access to the steps necessary for completion. 0 Pinterest Tumblr By Pamela Hulse Andrewscenter_img Facebook Share. E-Headlines Google+ on March 18, 2014 Emaillast_img

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