McCain: Cover Oregon COVER UP

December 14, 2013


Eds note:  The Obama Administration, through its Health and Human Services chief Kathleen Sebelius, has been  hiding the bad news about ObamaCare by silencing its partners. As Bruce McCain reports here, the same thing is happening in Oregon with OrBamaCare. 

OrBamaCare website

In September of this year, Rocky King, then Executive Director of Cover Oregon, warned state legislators at a joint committee that the planned October 1 roll-out of the program would not go as planned. “It’s not going to be a beautiful implementation,” confessed King, in what should earn King the “Understatement of the Year” award. Indeed, the implementation of Cover Oregon has been an unmitigated disaster, despite $300 million of federal tax dollars poured into the program.

Even incumbent governor John Kitzhaber, who recently announced his re-election bid, acknowledges thatCover Oregon will be a political impediment for him to overcome, despite his substantial Democratic electoral advantage in Blue Oregon. While the media have been predictably slow to criticize Cover Oregon’s abject failure, the silence from those who contracted with Cover Oregon to implement the plan has been oddly conspicuous. Now we know why.

Third party status reports on the Cover Oregon implementation indicate the state knew as early as November 2012 that it would never meet its planned and announced October 1 deadline. Meanwhile, the state was entering into contracts with “community partners” who would do the groundwork required to implement Cover Oregon. When it became apparent that Cover Oregon would not only fail to meet its October 1 deadline, but also fail to even go live online, the state realized it had a public relations catastrophe on its hands that even a $28 million ad campaign could not cover over.

So in October, Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority quietly created and issued a one-page“Community Partner Confidentiality Agreement” that prohibited contracted partners, including their directors, officers, employees, agents, staff, volunteers and affiliates from making “any false, misleading, deceptive, libelous, defamatory, or obscene statements, written or oral, to the public or to Community Partner’s potential or actual clientele regarding Cover Oregon and its board, officers or employees.”

This non-disparagement agreement was so secret that Cover Oregon officials were confident enough to deny its very existence when asked about it by KXL News. However, when the producer of the Lars Larson Show specifically asked for a copy of the “Cover Oregon Community Partner Confidentiality Agreement,” state officials complied and sent a copy of the same document provided earlier by a confidential source. Both my office and KXL have made public records requests for a list of all parties required or requested to sign these agreements. [Disclaimer: I provide legal analysis and on-air commentary for Alpha Broadcasting, which includes KXL News and the Lars Larson Show].

Bruce McCain is a lawyer, member of the Reynolds School Board, retired Multnomah Sheriff’s Captain, and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce. He keeps the blog Oregon Oracle where this post first appeared.