Vendor: Cover Oregon Website Axed for Political Reasons

Rocky King, Executive Director of Cover Oregon / AP

Rocky King, Executive Director of Cover Oregon / AP

BY:

A software vendor says the state of Oregon pulled the plug on its Cover Oregon healthcare exchange website for political reasons.

In a presentation to the House Energy and Commerce Committee obtained by KATU, software vendor Oracle says the Cover Oregon website was functional in February, but the Oregon government overstated the site’s problems to make the case for moving to the federal Obamacare exchange.

KATU reports:

“Cover Oregon executives have stated to Oracle that the application functionality is sufficient to support individual enrollment,” Oracle president Safra Catz wrote in a letter addressed to Cover Oregon interim director Clyde Hamstreet and state CIO Alex Pettit. “However, Cover Oregon has not agreed to give individuals direct access to the application. Thus Cover Oregon, not Oracle, made the decision to keep the exchange closed to individuals even though the functionality has been delivered by Oracle.”

The presentation was delivered to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, which requested the federal investigation that is currently underway by the Government Accountability Office. […]

Oracle’s presentation does not specify who in state government officially pulled the plug on the Cover Oregon website but speculates its functionality was kept from the public for political gain.

“Oracle can only conclude that the governor’s unwillingness to release the website is because doing so doesn’t fit with his re-election strategy of blaming Oracle for his own mistakes,” the presentation reads.

The governor’s office responded with a statement Sunday evening.

“After repeated testing from October 2013 to February 2014 and failures of the website to perform at minimal levels, Cover Oregon leadership, Cover Oregon’s Board, and Governor Kitzhaber made the decision (not to deploy the site),” it reads.

The state of Oregon is preparing a lawsuit against Oracle for its work on the website.

Oregon was supposed to be one of the models for state healthcare exchanges under Obamacare, but the much-touted Cover Oregon website was completely nonfunctional when it launched in October of last year.

The state spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the site, and then spent millions more trying to fix it before the Oregon governor announced it would transition to the federal exchange.