9/30/2014

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KATU Investigators

First Data report: Cover Oregon didn’t have federally required backup plan

First Data report: Cover Oregon didn’t have federally required backup plan

SALEM, Ore. -- The Cover Oregon collapse was worse than originally thought.

The On Your Side Investigators are continuing to uncover new details from the state's investigation into Cover Oregon, which shows the agencies responsible for creating Oregon's health insurance exchange -- Oregon Health Authority and Cover Oregon -- were completely unprepared should things go awry.

Of course, things did go awry. Despite millions of federal dollars for the project, an earlier start, and legions of support, Cover Oregon is still the only exchange website in the country where individuals cannot self-enroll online. The Cover Oregon website launched in October 2013.

Cover Oregon should have had a contingency plan, which was a core requirement of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal oversight agency for health insurance exchanges. In fact, CMS tried to get Cover Oregon to commit to a "plan B" in the summer of 2013 but the agency shifted its focus to planning for mere system outages instead.

There was also no evidence that Cover Oregon shared the CMS's concerns for lack of a backup plan with state lawmakers.

That's all according to the First Data report released by Gov. John Kitzhaber in a press conference Thursday.

Kitzhaber hired First Data, an independent firm, to answer seven key questions about what went wrong in the rollout of Oregon's state insurance exchange. First Data interviewed 67 people and reviewed more than 3,200 documents. The company was paid $228,000 for its investigation.

Instead of a backup plan, several key players within Cover Oregon kept unfettered faith in the project's main software developer, Oracle.

"If there was an error on our part, it was really, putting a lot of faith in what Oracle was committing to us," former Cover Oregon executive director Rocky King told the On Your Side Investigators late last month.

Oracle was not all it was cracked up to be. According to the same First Data report, Oracle promised that 95 percent of the software should have worked right out of the box when, in fact, almost half the coding had to be created from scratch.

Oracle also continued to post dates for specific deliveries but consistently missed deadlines.

Nevertheless, the continued reassurance of Oracle led Cover Oregon to believe the October rollout was achievable, and Cover Oregon, therefore, continued to reassure the state.

KATU tried to track down King Friday as well as Cover Oregon's newly ousted acting director, Bruce Goldberg, but King was not home and a Cover Oregon spokeswoman said Goldberg was not available.


Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website:

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Protecting the program: 'Lives have been destroyed due to the negligence of U of O administrators' Protecting the program: 'Lives have been destroyed due to the negligence of U of O administrators'