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Cover Oregon giving more than $650K in bonuses

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

– KGW  Staff. June 27, 2014

PORTLAND — Workers at the failed Cover Oregon health care exchange will receive bonuses to keep them on the job as a transition is made to the federal Affordable Care Act…

“Many of the employees who voluntarily left Cover Oregon had key skills that are not easily replaced both in IT and in health care laws and regulations,” [interim CEO Clyde Hamstreet] said in the letter…

The bonuses will total $662,752, according to Cover Oregon spokeswoman Ariane Holm.

There are 161 remaining employees and 38 workers will get bonuses of one to three months of pay… Most all will get at least a bonus of two weeks pay if they stick around until next spring…

Our Response & Your Comments

These employees had “key skills?” You mean the skills required to create a web site that burned through $248 million and couldn’t sign up a single individual? “They are not easily replaced?” Right – Where else could you find people who could blow this much money and accomplish nothing?

Now answer these questions:

1)    If you were looking for a job would you want “Cover Oregon” on your resume?

2)    If you were hiring, would you want to hire anyone with “Cover Oregon” on his/her resume?

We didn’t think so.


Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A spokesperson for Cover Oregon confirmed that roughly 80,000 people enrolled through Cover Oregon will have to re-enroll this fall when they move to the federal exchange.

However, Ariane Holm with Cover Oregon explained that regardless of the technology transition, customers would have had to resubmit their information.

Holm added that anyone who enrolled in coverage through Cover Oregon does not need to take any action right now.

Cover Oregon staff is currently exploring options to make the re-enrollment process easier by having customers’ information already show up in the system, so it doesn’t need to be reentered, Holm said.

The open enrollment period is set to begin Nov. 15.


Our Response & Your Comments

Just when you thought you could wake up from the Cover Oregon nightmare. When you thought nobody could inflict more incompetence, missed deadlines and lousy TV ads on Oregonians who just want to buy health insurance. Now, to paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Terminator” character – They’re baaaack!

Yes, indeed, folks. They are. Now you not only have to renew your policy (a pretty simple task). You have to start from scratch! Name, address – the whole enchilada!

But don’t worry – Cover Oregon staff is looking at ways to “make the enrollment process easier.” What could possibly go wrong?

Tip to all who are re-enrolling: Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Link to article:



FBI Investigating Oregon Obamacare Exchange

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

– The Weekly Standard, May 5, 2014

The Wall Street Journal reports that the feds are investigating the implementation of Cover Oregon, the state of Oregon’s now-defunct health insurance exchange as provided under Obamacare. Here’s an excerpt:

…The FBI has already interviewed some individuals as part of their inquiry, which was first reported by local station KATU and the Portland Oregonian last week…

 …What investigators are looking for is whether or not officials misled the state about the exchange’s problems. “The key challenge facing any prosecutor is proving criminal intent,” the Oregonian explains.” Did state officials paint an inaccurately rosy picture of the struggling health exchange? And if so, did they do so with intent to defraud the federal government? Or were they just unduly optimistic or out of touch with reality?”…

Cover Oregon has been a fiscal and organizational mess from the (sic) its beginning. The earliest sign was the state’s multi-million-dollar ad campaign designed to promote the exchange, before it had even launched. That campaign consisted of costly music videos that seemed to have little to do with health insurance or Cover Oregon.

Our Response & Your Comments

“Cover Oregon Failure to Launch” art




Real Lives are Being Affected—A Personal Story on Cover Oregon’s Impact

Monday, May 12, 2014

Editors’ Note: We receive lots of responses to Lane Solutions articles and opinions. Because we’ve been so concerned with the unintended consequences of Cover Oregon we were particularly touched by the story below. It’s from “Angie,” a Lane County resident who experienced firsthand the effects of this $248 Million disaster.

My brother is living with me and he is on SSI and also receives Medicare.  He called the 1-800 number to see about getting help with supplementary insurance due to his health and income.

I wanted someone to know that whoever is answering the phones needs to be a little more considerate of the elderly that are calling.  The guy that my brother talked to was very rude and told him he was not going to take him off of Medicare in order for him to get free health care and hung up on him.  My brother was very upset.  My brother was not looking for a handout and was not asking to be taken off Medicare.

I would like you to pass along this information to whoever takes charge of the employees answering the phones.

If you would like to talk to my brother his name is “John” and his phone number is (withheld).

I just thought maybe someone should know about this incident.

Lane Solutions responds: “Angie” – Now a lot of people know about your predicament. And like them, our hearts go out to you and your brother.

If any of our readers have ideas that could help Angie and her brother, please email Lane Solutions at


New Cover Oregon leader promises change

Thursday, May 1, 2014

–  Saerom Yoo, Salem Statesman Journal, Apr. 22, 2014

Cover Oregon’s new interim director Clyde Hamstreet said the state health insurance exchange he is charged with restructuring has committed employees but suffers from a lack of organization…

Our Response & Your Comments

“[L]ack of organization?” We’re shocked! Shocked!

Is he talking about the crew that promised us last September that the Cover Oregon website would be up and running in October? That blew about $200 million on a website that still can’t directly sign up one person? That spent almost $3 million advertising the “website that wasn’t?” That is planning to spend another million telling Oregonians that they have an extra month to sign up? That can’t pay commissions to brokers?

No – Clyde Hamstreet must be talking about someone else. Right?

Link: New Cover Oregon leader promises change



Oregon Lawmakers Try To Avoid Another Cover Oregon Fiasco

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

– Northwest News Network as reported by OPB

March 4, 2014

The website for Oregon’s health insurance exchange still isn’t fully functional.

Oregon lawmakers say they want to avoid another high-profile tech blunder like the problems facing the state’s online health insurance exchange.

There’s an independent review of the beleaguered project under way, but Oregon lawmakers say they want to prevent future problems. The Oregon Senate approved a bill that aims to beef up oversight of IT projects. And the House passed a measure to extend whistleblower protections to Cover Oregon employees. It also expanded the governor’s power to remove Cover Oregon board members.

Democratic state representative Shemia Fagan said the legislation isn’t meant to be a cure-all for Cover Oregon. But, she added, “This bill does create tools so as soon as (we) know what happened and who caused it, swift action can be taken on behalf of Oregonians.”…

Our Response & Your Comments

Our question is, “Why did these geniuses allow this to happen in the first place?”

For nearly $200 Million Oregon built a system where:

No one person was in charge

Decision making was spread out

The many agencies involved didn’t communicate

It wasn’t tested front to back

People misled Oregonians. In late Sept. Cover Oregon managers assured everyone that the site would open Oct. 1.

These are very, very basic principles for doing anything in business.

We have one final question for Guv Kitz: “Did you haul senior execs into your office around Sept. 15 and do a dry run on Cover Oregon? If you did, you knew it wouldn’t work. If you didn’t, it says much about how you manage issues that are of vital importance to you.


Why Lane County Has Cavities & Micronesia Has a Dentist, Part 3

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The last two issues of Lane Solutions told the story of local dentist Cedric Hayden, DDS. He spent $200,000 of his and his brother’s money to outfit a mobile dental clinic, which they wanted to park in rural areas of Lane County and offer free dental care to low income residents.

But not a single rural city wanted it. Why? Most thought it was a great idea – just not in their towns.

Connecting the dots, Dr. Hayden saw a sad pattern emerging among the “public servants” who profess to care so very much about their less well off constituents and found a place where his skills and compassion would be welcome.

The place? Chuuk, Micronesia, where around 55,000 people have not one dentist.

Chuuk welcomed Dr. Hayden, offered him a place to park his mobile clinic and a six month license to practice.

His first team of volunteers spent their Christmas vacation filling cavities in Chuuk. Dr. Hayden plans to spend three months each year there offering dental care.

We say, “Dr. Hayden – Thanks for your generosity. Too bad it wasn’t welcome here.”


Where Cover Oregon went wrong: Guest opinion

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

– The Oregonian, by Charles Jennings, CEO of Swan Island Networks, Inc., February 22, 2014

I decided to do a rare bit of housecleaning in my home office. As I was tossing out unwanted mail, I noticed the October, 2013, issue of one of the many high-tech trade magazines that periodically show up at my house, unsolicited. What caught my attention was a teaser on the cover about an article inside….

The project? Cover Oregon.

Here are a few choice quotes from the article:

Article subhead:  “With the launch of Cover Oregon, state officials expect their commitment to design thinking to pay off.”

“Thanks to design thinking … the Oregon team feels a lot more confident of hitting the mark,” said Cover Oregon CIO Aaron Karjala…

As we now know, the result of all this balderdash was a high-tech train wreck.

But let’s be fair: Cover Oregon is hardly the first big government IT project to fail. The list includes the Affordable Healthcare website and various sustainable energy programs under President Obama; the SBInet border control project under President Bush ($1 billion spent, zero results); and countless others….

Our Response & Your Comments

“Cover Oregon is hardly the first big government IT project to fail. ”We wonder why?

First, There’s a nasty little secret about government. It’s that is sees its first job as (are you ready?)…creating more government. More government means job security, more people to hire who will produce more government and, best of all – more money, which will lead to more governmental functions and (you guessed it) more government.

When you or we need a new sofa, table saw or whatever, our kneejerk reaction is to go to stores, identify the best product for the lowest price and buy it. We don’t start building the sofa or saw ourselves.

Not so with government. Because they know that if they do it themselves they’ll need to hire people, managers to manage them, assistants to serve them and lawyers to defend them. Who will hire more people, etc.

Does it cost more? Sure, but they have an infinite supply – your money. Does it result in “IT train wrecks?” Yeah – but you’ll pay for that, too.

So remember “The Iron Rule of Government:” More government always means even more government – at your expense.”


Why Lane Co. Has Cavities & Micronesia Has a Dentist , Part 2

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In Lane Solutions Issue # 58 we introduced readers to Dr. Cedric Ross Hayden, DDS.  His goal was simple – he and his brother had spent $200,000 of their money to construct a mobile dental clinic. Dr. Hayden wanted to take it around Lane County, park it in rural, underserved cities and provide free dental service to low income residents. Sounds like a good deal. Right?

Here’s where it all went wrong. Rural cities didn’t want it. One said they had a zoning ordinance prohibiting shipping containers from being parked in town. Yes, Dr. Hayden’s clinic was a reconfigured shipping container. But inside, you could barely tell it from your own dentist’s office. Would the city give a waiver for medical or dental equipment? “Nyet,” ruled the commissars.

According to Dr. Hayden, who only wanted to serve the poor, about whom these cities say they care so much, the typical reaction was “Great idea – just not in my back yard.”

Watch for Lane Solutions Issue #60 and find out why a faraway island country welcomed Dr. Hayden with open arms – and open mouths waiting for a good dentist.


Why Lane Co. Has Cavities and Micronesia Has a Dentist

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ed. Note: This is the first of a three part series

Dr. Cedric Ross Hayden, D.D.S had a dream. He wanted to outfit a mobile dental clinic, staff it with volunteer dentists and hygienists, move it around rural areas in Lane Co. and offer regular, free dental care to low income Oregonians.

Here’s how it would work: Dr. Hayden would drive the clinic to a small town. He’d park it there long enough to meet local dental needs. Then he’d take it to nearby rural towns, parking it for a week or so. His goal was to visit these towns three times a year, providing regular dental treatment.

Was Dr. Hayden asking anyone to pay for his clinic? No. He and brother Matthew had already funded it with $200,000 out of their own pockets. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?

As ESPN sportscaster Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.” Because his dream would turn to dust.

What went wrong? Why would small burgs in Lane Co. not welcome him and his mobile dental care facility with open arms? And why does Micronesia have the dental care that Lane County didn’t want? Find out in the next issue of Lane Solutions as we focus on one town’s “Thanks but no thanks.”