Oregon’s Trail of Waste and Corruption
As the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues its examination of the dealings of former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), more instances of fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer funds continues to eminate from Kitzhaber’s creation — the state’s Obamacare exchange.
Kitzhaber and former Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes are facing criminal investigations by the Oregon Attorney General, the FBI and potentially the IRS — in addition to a civil investigation by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Allegations of wrongdoing extend to government contracts to green energy companies represented by Hayes, destruction of emails and political decision-making relating to Cover Oregon’s the states health care exchange.
The evidence is clear that when Cover Oregon went online and didn’t function, Kitzhaber tasked his political director, the self-proclaimed “Princess of Darkness,” Patricia McCaig, to oversee its operations. McCaig pulled the plug on the operation despite spending over $200 million taxpayer dollars on the establishment of the exchange. McCaig, fearing its failure would harm the governor’s re-election campaign, decided to shut down operations and roll the exchange into the federal one.
Despite joining the federal exchange, problems with Cover Oregon continue. A recent federal audit found that 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.
“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.
It remains to be seen whether Kitzhaber and company will be charged but in the interim, the taxpayers are being the ones punished by Cover Oregon.