oregon (2)

Oregon's Obamacare exchange was going to the the model for the nation and it is.  It is a cesspool of waste fraud and corruption.

Former Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber was touted by the liberal media as "the man who could save health care" in America. The former doctor turned politician grab ahold of Obamacare and the opportunity to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create Cover Oregon, the state's Obamacare exchange.  $200 million went into building the exchange and more taxpayer money was spent on advertising that looked like Woodstock was coming to town. When they when to turn on the exchange, they ran into the same difficulties as the federal exchange.  It wouldn't work.

Kitzhaber had been warned by contractors who were working on the exchange that they needed more time but ignored their pleas.  As the weeks went on, the failure became a political embarrassment and Kitzhaber tasked his political advisor, Patricia McCaig who called herself the "Princess of Darkness" to oversee all decisions regarding the state's exchange.  When the pressure was too much politically, she pulled the plug on the project. $300 million was wasted but ultimately the decision served its purpose.  Kitzhaber was re-elected.

Since that time, Kitzhaber has been under federal investigation on a host of potential crimes, including giving government contracts to the former first lady of the state.  He remains in legal jeopardy.  

But for the taxpayers, the waste of taxpayer dollars continues.  Dean Chambers, writing on Red State, notes:

A recent federal audit found that Oregon might have saved more than $10 million in the Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan that served low-income citizens in the state. The Oregon Health Plan gave health care organizations broad leeway in the spending of billions, leading to money inefficiently spent. The state of Oregon is seeking to recover $50 million allegedly overspent by a group called FamilyCare.

The new federal audit tackles a new, little-noticed aspect of the state’s Medicaid reforms…Specifically, it looks at how Oregon went a different direction from the larger federal reforms called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. While the federal reforms tacked Medicaid as well as private health insurers, Oregon’s reforms only looked at Medicaid,” the Portland Tribue reported about the federal audit.

In making this exception, it allowed what were called coordinated care organizations (CCOs) broad leeway, not allowed under Medicaid, over the spending of money that lead to the lack of savings discovered by the federal audit. 

The audit highlights one of the many political compromises that went into crafting the reforms. Former Gov. Kitzhaber and the Oregon Legislature didn’t require the coordinated care organizations to meet the same spending standards that private insurance companies must meet,” the Portland Tribue reported.

As a result of the rules created by Kitzhaber and his political cronies, the CCOs were not required to limit their administrative costs to 15 percent as were the private insurance companies providing health care coverage in Oregon. The audit found that 11 of the 16 CCOs in Oregon exceeded the 15 percent limit on administration costs. As a result, they over-spent by about $10 million.

When Kitzhaber attempted to make Oregon a model of Obamacare, he succeeded but not in the way he envisioned.  

Read more…

Stop Slavitt

The Chicago Way has a simple formula -- reward your friends and punish your enemies.  President Obama plays the game well and rewards those who take care of him -- even when they take care of themselves in the process.  The game is being played out at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) where the president has nominated Andy Slavitt to become head of the agency.

Slavitt was the CEO of Optum/QSSI, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest health insurers. In order to be appointed to CMS, the administration granted Slavitt an "ethics waiver," allowing him to receive $4.8 million in tax-free money when he joined the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Optum/QSSI had been building the data services hub for the online marketplace Healthcare.gov under an $85 million contract before it was chosen to serve as the systems integrator in late October 2013, just weeks after the website famously imploded. Slavitt may have played a roll in the contract award.

Slavitt has helped turn Obamacare into a slush fund for blue states who were rewarded billions in federal dollars to build state exchanges.  After receiving $179 in federal grants to build a failed state exchange, Maryland sued the contractors who built it.  When the state attorney general received a settlement, Slavitt gave $45 million to the state, a nice pat on the back for building the exchange in the first place -- even though Maryland didn't spend a nickel of their own funds to build it.

Taxpayers want to know what role Slavitt had in covering up the dismemberment of Oregon's health care exchange.  As you recall, Cover Oregon was killed for political purposes when the Democrat governor, John Kitzhaber, who has since resigned in disgrace, tasked his political director to oversee the exchange.  She pulled the plug for political reasons, fleecing taxpayers of $300 million without a howl of protest from. Mr. Slavitt and his team in Washington.

To their credit, the GOP Senate has refused to act on the nomination and is demanding answers.  Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, "Mr. Slavitt will need to answer a number of tough questions regarding his former employer and their relationship with the agency" and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) stated, "I have asked CMS to provide details on how it's walling off Mr. Slavitt from potential conflicts of interest. I will continue to ask these questions as part of the nomination process." So far, no answers have been forthcoming.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell often seems to care more about making sure the trains run on time rather than standing up to fight on principle.  If there was ever an easy fight to win, this is it.  Slavitt is a walking ethics violation with conflicts of interest coming out his ears.  One can only hope that McConnell and his allies in the Senate don't cut a deal to see that Slavitt is confirmed.  

Read more…