Disclosure Denied

New law shields Calif. agency overseeing health care reforms from scrutiny

California Assembly Speaker John Perez speaking about Calif. health care exchange law / AP

California Assembly Speaker John Perez speaking about Calif. health care exchange law / AP

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A new California law grants an agency overseeing health care reforms the authority to keep the spending on contractors secret from public disclosure, reports the Associated Press:

The degree of secrecy afforded Covered California appears unique among states attempting to establish their own health insurance exchanges under President Barack Obama’s signature health law.

An Associated Press review of the 16 other states that have opted for state-run marketplaces shows the California agency was given powers that are the most restrictive in what information is required to be made public.

The agency has the authority to keep all contracts private for a year and the amount of money a contractor is awarded secret forever. The government says it conceals bids for a contract to make the process fair. However, once a bid is awarded the contracts are made public.

“Except for the portion of a contract that contains the rates of payment, contracts entered into pursuant to this title shall be open to inspection one year after their effective dates,” reads the code specifying what exchange records are exempt from public disclosure.

Additionally, the exchange agency does not have to reveal a contractor’s recommendations, research, strategy of the board or its staff, minutes of board meetings, or provide the instructions, advice, or training it gives to employees.

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