Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oregonian: Governor Kitzhaber "out of the loop" on Cover Oregon

Maybe a stronger phrase than "out of touch" or "out of the loop" might be appropriate criticism for a governor praising the Cover Oregon debacle three weeks after its failure.
Critics blasted Kitzhaber for being out of touch on Cover Oregon. He admitted he was out of the loop, praising the smooth rollout of Oregon’s exchange in a speech in late October, three weeks after the site’s failure to launch.
The phrase "out of touch" is not exactly a political "blast". How about heading an administration that misuses federal funds? Or asks high officials to lie?

Interesting how mild the phrasing is when a Democratic governor is involved. Imagine the wording of that paragraph had it been a Republican governor praising a major health program three weeks after it had been shown to be a complete failure when 150,000 Oregonians were losing their health coverage and $304 million of federal funds had been given to the project.

Even the Oregonian editorial board has a hard time going beyond mild words:
"equal parts myopia, groundless optimism and, perhaps, hubris on the part of Oregon leaders"
. . .
"Cover Oregon's failure poses no questions of apparent malfeasance or wrongdoing or shenanigans by state managers or elected leaders. Instead it asks of them, extending all the way to Gov. John Kitzhaber, how managers aspiring to do the right thing can get it so completely wrong – and at such horrendously high public expense."
. . .
"Kitzhaber made a large deposit in the credibility bank last year with his leadership on public pension reform, but he’s watched much of that advantage melt away over the past few months thanks to the Cover Oregon fiasco, which raises questions not only about those with more direct involvement, but also about the governor himself."
. . .
"What do Goldberg’s and Bonetto’s apparent lapses – in communication and aggressive curiosity – say about the organizational culture for which Kitzhaber is chiefly responsible? If he were running a business, he wouldn’t get a pass for failing to know about critical problems with a $160 million project.
. . .
"And what, for that matter, does Bonetto’s promotion say about the governor's judgment? Nothing that’s going to restore the his rapidly dwindling surplus of credibility, that’s for sure."
. . .
"At this point, a thorough house-cleaning seems to be an obvious prerequisite for renewed credibility. Shedding a couple of those responsible for the Cover Oregon debacle while shuffling higher-level officials who could have and should have done more will not be enough.

"If, on the other hand, the governor can make a persuasive case for his conspicuously modest response, he should do so, and quickly. His constituents probably don’t like being left out of the loop, either. "
. . .
"apparently oblivious governor"
The Oregonian can't seem to bring itself to ask a question about Kitzhaber's incompetence and negligence--not to mention a wholesale discarding of malfeasance or wrongdoing before an investigation has been completed. Certainly questions need to be asked about whether political cronyism had a role in Kitzhaber appointing incompetent individuals to run Cover Oregon and then failing to appoint competent officials to monitor those officials.


MAX Redline said...

It doesn't bode well that Oracle's pulled 100 programmers out of the project. I suspect they'll be replaced with an equal number of lawyers.

On the one hand, it may seem curious that nobody in the media is calling Retread out for incompetence, as there's no excuse for a CEO to be "out of the loop" on a project of such magnitude. But on the other hand, he's notoriously thin-skinned; he stormed out of an interview a couple of weeks ago when KATU had the unmitigated audacity to question him about the Californian that he brought in to shotgun the operation.

In light of the fact that by all appearances, she established a fake website that was used to demonstrate progress to the feds in order to keep the money rolling in, KATU was acting in the public interest in questioning him.

Thus far, Oregon has received some $300 million from the feds; they've plunked $160 million into the website and another $40 million into advertising contracts that resulted in those memorable hipster-oriented ads. More ads are supposedly in the pipeline, but for some odd reason, the state's not airing them at present.

We applied through the Exchange, as you know, back in mid-October. We were finally approved in mid-February. But CoverOregon still hasn't quite got around to getting the information to the insurance company. I'm beginning to think that by the time it all gets done, we'll be in the open enrollment period for next year.

OregonGuy said...

And yet, Cover Oregon is planning another media buy.

Should be interesting.

T. D. said...

OG, here's the Barkers Five link:
I tried to leave it in a comment on your site, but the comment didn't take.

As to Cover Oregon, it's an ongoing disaster. It would be entertaining if people like you, Max, weren't being forced to jump through hoops and harmed by it in order to get basic medical coverage needs cared for.

It's just a matter of time before the train wreck impacts lots of people's coverage. Wait until the Medicare crowd starts feeling the pain of losing half a trillion dollars from their medical money pile. Continuing lessons on "elections have consequences".

MAX Redline said...

It would be entertaining if people like you, Max, weren't being forced to jump through hoops and harmed by it in order to get basic medical coverage needs cared for.

Ah, but according to Hairy Reed, those stories are all lies....

Oddly enough, I was emailed an 800 number to call yesterday, and I got through in mere minutes. It was someplace in the insurance provider, and they said that we're finally in their system, please pay now. So we did an over-the-phone payment for the March premium.

However, I'd already sent the premium for March under the old plan, so I inquired about that, and was told it'll appear as a credit for April under the new plan. That's some impressive work by Cover Oregon; 2-1/2 weeks to get the plan approval sent from Salem to Portland. Maybe they walked it up there.

But I'd still be waiting, had I not turned to an insurance agent. The Cover Oregon site now permits purchases of plans, but only by agents. No word on when - or if - it'll be open to the public.

T. D. said...

Max, glad you're finally on the actual final insurance track thanks to your insurance agent pushing things through.

In Brazil they have an entire industry of people, called despachantes, whose job is to be the go between on anything a private citizen or company needs from the government--including car license and driver's license renewals. The upside is they are fairly cheap and specialization works.

You think Oregon will get any more federal money? Kind of hard to be the least productive project among the states. But, with Harry Reid in power it probably doesn't matter. What he thinks is true IS true. And the people complaining about Cover Oregon are liars.