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Cover Oregon Scandal Illustrates the Arrogance and Audacity of Failed Big Government

Cover Oregon Scandal Illustrates the Arrogance and Audacity of Failed Big Government

Liberal Democrats had the audacity to believe that something as complex as providing health care to millions of citizens could be more effectively administered by government bureaucrats who had no experience or training in administration of this sector of the economy, than by the experienced and trained experts who managed the provision of health care in the private sector.

In Oregon, Governor John Kitzhaber and his administration were confident the state would lead the way, setting the example for many others, in how it would set up its state Obamacare exchange and administer the signs-up for the program. After spending more than $300 million setting up the state’s health care exchange, not a single citizen of the state signed up for Obamacare via the website before it was closed down. The Cover Oregon failure was such a political liability, for a governor in a heated battle for reelection in 2014, that Kitzhaber appointed his chief political advisor and campaign consultant, Patricia McCaig, to lead and carry out the closing of the site to protect the governor’s campaign for reelection.

In the process, they came up with the brilliant idea to deflect attention from their own glaring incompetent and rotten corruption and squandering of about $300 million in Cover Oregon by blaming the whole fiasco on Oracle, the information technology firm they brought to try to fix the doomed health care exchange website. They not only blamed Oracle for their failure to make Cover Oregon work, they filed a lawsuit against the company claiming they were responsible for the failure. Kitzhaber and McCaig not only presided over the failed Cover Oregon, but they further compounded the mess by suing Oracle.

While the lawsuit against Oracle is wasting time and resources in the court system in Oregon, there are still many unanswered questions about how and why Cover Oregon failed to sign up a single citizen to Obamacare, and where all that money was spent. Taxpayers were taken for $300 million and no one appears to know where all that money went.

Furthermore, as Gov. Kitzhaber got himself into trouble from other scandals as well as this one, he took the path of least resistance earlier this year and resigned his office. Clearly this whole mess needs to be thoroughly investigated, and it looks like the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, is going to step up and conduct just such an investigation of what happened and where the money went in the Cover Oregon fiasco.

The failure of the Maryland Health Connection state Obamacare exchange has lead to a out-of-court settlement with the company contracted to create it, Noridian Healthcare Solutions. The Washington Post reported about this last week. In the settlement announced earlier this month by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Noridian will pay $20 million upfront and another $25 million over five years in annual installments of $5 million. The money will be split between the state of Maryland and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Exactly how much of the settlement funds goes to the state of Maryland appears to have not been disclosed.

Maryland was among the 14 states that established their own state healthcare exchanges under the Obamacare program. The Maryland state exchange failed just minutes after it opened on October 1, 2013, despite Noridian’s $193 million contract to bulid and implement the exchange in that state. The settlement still needs regulatory approval before it is finalized.

The Cover Oregon website never worked, and didn’t sign up a single state citizen for Obamacare. Those who were able to sign up had to fill out and file paper applications for Obamacare. Those who did sign up for Obamacare, if they were not eligible for full government subsidies for their health care, signed up for plans that offered sub-par coverage combined with excessively high premiums and shockingly gigantic deductibles. When the stores of Obamacare health care policies with $5000 and higher deductibles came out, it was clear that Obamacare was a joke. Clearly such a poor designed plan seemed like it was either massively incompetently conceived or it was deliberately designed to fail. It clearly was anything but evidence that Big Government and liberal bureaucrats could administer such an important sector of the economy, such as health care, more efficiently and effectively than it was administered prior to Obamacare by the health care system we had in place.

As Cover Oregon failed quite disastrously and miserably, other state exchanges failed and the entire Obamacare system is proving unworkable. There is increasing talk about how the so-called health care reform signed by President Barack Obama is soon going to descend into a “death spiral” that collapse Obamacare into a black hole of epic failure. To succeed, economically, and bring in enough revenue to pay for those who qualify for subsidies (which is needed if Obamacare is going to cover any significant percentage of those who lacked health care insurance), it would have to sign up enough paying customers enrolling in those ridiculous plans with the sky-high deductibles. Since more who signed up for the program were those eligible subsidies, and not the ones who would be paying out of pocket, the whole system teeters on collapsing because the individual mandate is not succeeding in forcing millions to sign up and pay for Obamacare at the exchanges. The whole Obamacare system might yet go the way of Cover Oregon.

The entire Cover Oregon mess shows that liberal Democrat politicians had the audacity to think that government could manage such a large sector of economy and provision of health care better than could the private sector. And when it failed, it illustrated the arrogance of liberal politicians, such as Gov. John Kitzhaber, who believed he could cover up the epic failure of the state Obamacare exchange by put a political appointee in charge of closing it down in time to save his reelection as governor of Oregon. Conservatives warned that government would not manage health care better than the private sector, and that enacting Obamacare would only make the health care system worse. The failure of Cover Oregon only proved this to be more true than any critics of Obamacare ever expected. It also proved, once again, that liberal Big Government is not the solution to our problems.

That warning was given quite clearly in 2010 as Congress debated over enacting Obamacare. But the liberal Democrat majorities ignored the warning, as did the president, and Obamacare was passed by narrow, partisan majorities in both houses of Congress, not receiving a single Republican vote on final passage. Cover Oregon, and Obamacare, are a prime example of the corruption, failure and incompetence in public policy that we were when Democrats alone, governing in one-party fashion and refusing to work with and compromise with Republicans, decides public policy. The arrogance displayed here should be enough alone for voters to be extremely hesitant to ever trust liberal Democrats to “reform” health care every again.

Dean Chambers, inspired by the ideas of freedom and the principles of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, is an independent journalist, founding and editing two independent newspapers while in college.


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