Federal investigation into the Oregon ObamaCare exchange heats up
It looks like at least one little corner of the epic ObamaCare disaster might result in criminal charges, as the Oregonian reports “the U.S. Attorney’s office issued broad subpoenas seeking information from Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority”:
While the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s interest in the exchange debacle had been previously reported, the legal demands dated May 13 indicate things may have moved beyond a preliminary inquiry to a full-blown investigation.
The investigation, led by federal prosecutors and the FBI, is seeking documents, memos, and emails between the two state entities that oversaw the botched health exchange with U.S. authorities in charge of dispensing federal money for the project.
Oregon has spent $250 million and three years on an ambitious IT project that failed to produce a fully functional exchange. Instead, what was produced was bug-ridden and largely unfinished, documents show.
State officials say they’ll cooperate with the federal grand jury subpoenas. Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority issued a joint statement: “The agencies take this request seriously and will cooperate fully with federal officials. We will work collaboratively with the US Attorney’s Office to provide any and all information we have and make any and all staff available to assist.”
Such cooperation would be a refreshing change of pace from how every other tentacle of ObamaCare responds to oversight and requests for information. Usually we get riddles wrapped in mysteries inside enigmas hidden behind stonewalls wreathed in blue smoke and mirrors. It takes months in court to get the kind of information the Obama Administration should freely provide on a daily basis.
Among other things, the FBI seems to be interested in whether state officials misled their federal counterparts about progress on the exchange in order to get more federal funding. The FBI has asked for all communications between the state and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the so-called “gate reviews,” in which federal officials supposedly quizzed state officials about the status of the IT project.
The FBI is also seeking communications with Exeter Systems, another technology company that approached the state saying it had a cheap, off-the-shelf technology that would meet the state’s needs.
Documents obtained through Oregon’s public-records law have shown that the Legislature’s IT oversight analyst, Bob Cummings, felt the state misled federal officials about the status of the project. He related that Exeter felt the same, and that a Cover Oregon demonstration to the feds that was “little more than what” an Exeter executive – formerly with Oracle — “had built as a ‘demo’ for Oregon.”
This could be bad news for Democrat Governor John Kitzhaber, who has been using the famed Incompetence Defense popular across the Obama Administration to claim he shouldn’t be held accountable for a $250 million debacle he was barely aware of, because who expects governors to keep tabs on gigantic projects that clean out taxpayers’ wallets and affect the lives of millions of citizens?
Cover Oregon was already a significant political liability for Gov. Kitzhaber. Confirmation of a federal criminal investigation into the matter likely won’t help. In an early May poll, about half of registered voters said Kitzhaber should not be re-elected.
Last fall’s PERS reform and Kitzhaber’s other achievements have been “completely subsumed by this Cover Oregon stuff,” said prominent local pollster Tim Hibbitts.
“The governor sees this investigation as an important step so we can get answers to the questions we and the public have,” said Kitzhaber spokeswoman Nkenge Harmon Johnson. “He has no reason to believe any public employee did anything illegal.”
In a May 10 interview, Kitzhaber said he had no direct knowledge of the FBI investigation, but said he hoped another federal agency, the Government Accountability Office, would look at a consultant’s finding that Cover Oregon had presented rosier risk-status reports to the federal government than existed internally. “Whether that was intentional, criminal or an error, I don’t know,” he said.
The saga of ObamaCare continues: nobody knows nuthin’. No one was in charge, so no one can be held accountable for the most breathtaking abuse of taxpayer money in modern history – from President Obama and his HHS Secretary, on down to state officials. Literally billions of dollars vanished into thin air – the cost of the federal ObamaCare exchange has officially passed one billion dollars, and it still isn’t finished – and there’s lots more waste and abuse to come, as the insurance industry gears up for a titanic taxpayer bailout. But no one is responsible. It all just sort of… happened.
Now quit complaining about all that wasted money, and give these people even more control over your life, because they obviously know how to manage everything better than anyone in the private sector.