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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


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.”


Bill to Make it Illegal to Cut Hours to Avoid Paying Health Benefits to Get Hearing

Thursday, February 20, 2014

 – By Steve Benham, KATU: Feb 10, 2014

SALEM, Ore. – Concerns about colleges and universities cutting faculty hours to avoid paying health benefits under the new federal health care law has prompted state Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, to introduce legislation to make the practice for all Oregon employers illegal.

Senate Bill 1543 is scheduled to get a hearing before the Senate Health Care and Human Services committee today at 3:00 p.m.

Dembrow, who has taught English at the Cascade campus of Portland Community College for years, told KATU last week he’s heard “through the grapevine” and has read news reports that some community colleges “have been advised to reduce their teachers’ hours” in order to get out of paying health benefits to some employees.

Under the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”), companies that employ 50 or more employees are required to provide their workers with health insurance if they work an average of 30 hours or more a week…

Our Response & Your Comments

We’ll ignore the delicious irony of colleges, probably the single biggest institutional fans of ObamaCare, slashing professors’ hours to get out of paying for…ObamaCare!

Our larger point is that laws like these are the steroids that drive government hyper-growth. Here’s why…

First they pass ObamaCare, which is 2200 pages of dizzying complexities, dazzling contradictions and unintended consequences. Now you need more laws to clean up the complexities, contradictions and, most of all, unintended consequences. Thus emerges from the swamp Dembrow’s bill.

Then the new law demands  more government to make it work. How do you prove in court that

State U cut Prof. Propellerhead’s hours to avoid paying his ObamaCare bill? Hire psychiatrists to muck about in his brain? Plus you need investigators to hunt down evidence. They need lawyers, offices and assistants. Plus you need new laws to empower the investigators and lawers. And the beat goes on and on –  as government matasaticizes at your expense.





Oregon prisons, social services in need of millions of dollars as lawmakers adjust budgets

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

…When the Oregon Legislature convenes Monday, two large state agencies will be asking for tens of millions of dollars.

Lawmakers will revisit the 2013-15 budget to address collective bargaining costs, a record $40 million wildfire season and revenue forecasts that fell $70 million short of earlier projections

Corrections officials say they need about $90 million, and Human Services officials say they need about $100 million to fill their gaps, though some money is expected from other sources…

The Oregonian, January 28, 2014

Our Response and Your Comments

Here are three rules to remember when you’re reading about government “needing” more money:

Government (at every level – city, county, state, federal) always needs more money;

Government can never do with less money;

You can always do with less money because of Rule #1.

As Ronald Reagan opined: “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”


Eugene senator to discuss wage gap

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A report detailing the differences between poor and wealthy Oregonians is set to be released by Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, during a forum at the Eugene Public Library 6 p.m. Monday (Jan. 27).

Edwards authored a bill that passed during the 2013 Legislative Session calling for the Pay Inequality in Oregon study. According to a press release, Edwards plans to talk about ways to solve the “wage gap”…

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian and Oregon Council on Civil Rights Chair Sunny Petit are slated to join Edward.

Salem Statesman Journal

January 23, 2014

Our Response & Your Comments

Here are some questions we’d like to pose to Sen. Edwards:

When the Census Bureau measures income it excludes payments such as Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (that’s where the Govt. gives money to people who don’t pay taxes). What would the “wage gap” be if those were included?

People move up and down the income ladder. A college grad may start by earning $25,000, hit a career peak at $150,000, then retire and live off a part time job, pensions and Social Security. What’s wrong with that?

Could part of the “wage gap” be explained by the fact that a person’s income can move infinitely up but can only go down to $0?

If I’m earning what my skills and experience warrant, what do I care what Bill Gates makes?


Conservative age-based funds in college savings plans serve up surprise losses

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 14, 2014

Eric Hutchinson has been saving for his daughter’s college education for a dozen years. But in April, the Tigard resident decided to take advantage of the Oregon College Savings Plan‘s tax break.

He put $5,000 in the plan’s Age-Band 16 portfolio for 16-year-olds, which will automatically adjust his investment into more conservative holdings as his daughter Noelle gets older.

So, he was a bit surprised when he looked at the account balance just after New Year’s and found it held $4,980. Hadn’t it gained anything from the year’s run-up in stocks?

Our Response & Your Comments

How could your lose money in a year when virtually every stock market index shot through the stratosphere?

It’s simple – Trust it to the government.

To be fair, government college savings programs lost money because they are understandably conservative and become more so as students approach college age, so they skew towards bonds.

But there are a few simple truths here.

First, when you trust your money to the government you lose control over it, so you can’t start out conservative in Jan. and in March say “Stocks are the place to be, so I’m switching to them.”

Second, government programs are top down, rigid, one-size-fits all programs. And if they don’t fit you, it’s just too darn bad. Think ObamaCare, Cover Oregon, etc.

The final lesson: Nobody watches your money like you watch your money. Carve this into your dining room table and never forget it. Especially when dealing with the government.


‘We look like fools:’ A history of Cover Oregon’s failure

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

By Dusty Lane, Staff Jan 10, 2014


KATU’s Investigators spent weeks digging through thousands of pages of audits conducted by Maximus, the company the state hired to provide quality-control assessments of the project beginning in its early days….

November 2011
…there are already red flags about the scope of the project – namely Oracle’s future support for the aging software the state has decided on…

June 2012
Maximus notes that staff members are quitting faster than they can be hired…

July 2012
The IT team has gone through multiple iterations of the software, and there are serious worries about security…

September 2012
…Maximus portrays a project that’s dangerously close to out of control…

November 2012
With less than a year to go until the deadline, the progress that’s been made is insignificant in comparison with what’s left to be done…

January 2013
Security issues are getting worse…

February 2013
Cover Oregon begins to change its message, suggesting the task was impossible to begin with…

MarchMay 2013
There’s been a misallocation of $16 million…

September 2013
With two weeks to go, (Cover Oregon head) Rocky King delivers a Power Point presentation that contains eight astounding words: “Bottom Line: We Are On Track to Launch.”

Our Response & Your Comments

Yes, we do look like fools. But we suggest a slight change of title to “All You Clowns Look Like Fools.” And liars. And finger pointers. And whiners. We could go on, but you get the point. And any of our readers who actually needed health insurance could add more colorful adjectives.

Cover Oregon has indelibly stamped itself as the prototypical government program: expensive, beaurocratic without anyone really being in charge, over budget, non functioning, and nobody’s to blame except the company (Oracle) that took advantage of the poor “public servants” who cooked the program up and then cocked it up beyond all recognition.

Maybe it’s appropriate that it’s Gov. “Hands off” Kitz’s signature program.

Remember that old bumper sticker – “If you think health care’s expensive now, just wait til it’s free”? Well, folks, you’re now seeing it in real life!


Liquor sales, liquor profits

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Privatization proposals raise questions

After voters in Washington state approved an initiative privatizing distilled liquor sales two years ago, it seemed inevitable that Oregonians would soon be presented with a similar proposal. Sure enough, this week the Oregon Grocery Association filed five liquor privatization initiatives, one of which is likely to appear on the ballot next year…

The grocery association’s interest is obvious: It wants a piece of the action. Currently, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission purchases and warehouses virtually all liquor sold in the state, which is then sold through state-chartered liquor stores. The initiatives filed this week would allow stores with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space to sell spirits…

State-chartered liquor stores tend to be small, independently owned businesses. The proposed initiatives would open the liquor market to such giants as Fred Meyer and Safeway, which are backing the proposals…

For consumers, privatization offers the potential advantage of lower prices…

Oregon’s current system has promoted the emergence of a low-volume craft distillery industry, which after privatization would depend on specialty retailers. Privatization would make it more convenient to buy a bottle of Jack Daniels bourbon, but finding a Rogue Valley pear liqueur might be a different story…

The Oregonian, December 18, 2013

Our Response & Your Comments

Lane Solutions neither supports nor opposes this potential ballot measure. But we do have questions which we we’re considering and suggest that you do as well.

  1. Should Oregon, or any state, be in the liquor business?
  2. Does Oregon, with its high liquor prices, have fewer problem drinkers than states which have lower liquor prices (e.g. California)?
  3. Is it the business of government to “protect(ing) small businesses at the expense of big ones?”
  4. Is it the business of government to protect boutique distillers such as Rogue Valley or should the market decide who survives and who doesn’t?
  5. How good is government at picking winners and losers?

We welcome your comments on this issue.


Don’t let EUC lapse

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The need for federal unemployment benefits persists

What would the Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives do if they were forced to live on unemployment insurance and food stamps for six months? And how would they feel if their food stamp allotments were suddenly reduced and their unemployment checks cut off — three days after Christmas?…

The program, called Emergency Unemployment Compensation, was approved by Congress during the Great Recession to extend state-based unemployment insurance programs by using federal dollars to pay benefits to people looking for jobs. Congress has previously extended the program several times.

Unemployment in the United States was under 6 percent before the recession but the national average remains stuck above 7 percent — lower than the 10 percent peak in 2009 but still troublesome — and there are nearly three unemployed workers for every job opening. A report by the White House Council on Economic Advisers and the U.S. Labor Department, released Thursday, said extending the EUC one year would save 240,000 jobs nationwide, including 3,829 jobs in Oregon…

The Eugene Register Guard, December 9, 2014

Our Response & Leave Your Comments

The RG editors didn’t read or chose to ignore a simple economics lesson from an earlier issue of Lane Solutions.

So as much as we hate to repeat ourselves, we’ll count to ten and try again to communicate basic logic and common sense to them.

Here it is: politicians cannot remove money (“taxes”) from the private sector, take a bite out of it to run their beaurocracy, give what’s left to a group they want to vote for them and create more jobs than they first killed by over taxation and more money than they grabbed from the poor saps who worked for it.

If paying people not to work actually creates more jobs and economic growth why don’t we just pay everyone not to work?

And what do these geniuses think we’d do with the money if they didn’t grab it? Bury it? No – we’d invest it or spend it. In either case it would end up back in the economy in the form of economic growth and job creation.

Why don’t these “public servants” concentrate on something where they’re more likely to stumble on

success? Like an anti-gravity machine or a pill that converts water to gasoline.


ODOT Wants You!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Here’s Your Chance to Shape Oregon Transportation Policy

The Oregon Department of Transportation is launching the development of a statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. They are forming a high-level stakeholder group to help guide the development of the plan.  To learn more about the Plan and Commission.

The PAC serves in an advisory capacity to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC).  OTC Commissioner Pat Egan will serve as the chair of the PAC. The Plan will be a state mode plan under the 2006 Oregon Transportation Plan (OTP) and will be a key element of the state transportation planning program.

Statewide transportation modal plans (e.g. Highway, Rail and Public Transportation) and topic plans (e.g. Freight, Transportation Options) further define and implement the goals, policies and strategies of the OTP
and help to guide the development, investment and management of Oregon’s transportation system.

Development of the Plan will be a closely coordinated activity between ODOT, key stakeholders and the public.  Working with a Policy Advisory Committee to guide plan development is an important element of this process and will help to develop a comprehensive, strategic plan for Oregon that:
.         refines the vision for the future of biking and walking in Oregon
.         serves as the policy basis for bicycle and pedestrian investments within the state; and
.         positions  Oregon to meet the challenges and opportunities facing
the broader transportation system and its users.
.         reflects the ideas and needs of Oregon stakeholders and citizens
It is anticipated that the plan will be developed over about two years and that the Policy Advisory Committee will meet up to 15 times between the fall of 2013 and the fall of 2015. Over the course of the project, the Committee will provide advice and direction on plan content and review key deliverables. The meetings will likely be held in either the Salem or Portland area. In person attendance is preferred; however teleconference options will be made available.  Your time will be respected and all efforts will be made to keep meetings and committee responsibilities focused and efficient.