‘Cover Oregon’ Insider Blames Oracle for $300M Debacle
Litigation, court battles, angry words, and $300 million in wasted taxpayer dollars. It's another legacy of the largely failed Obamacare program. Besides proving the premise that you could keep your own doctor to be false, Oregon became the stepchild for the biggest meltdown and failure of a healthcare exchange in the nation.
Until now, because of the courts and lawsuits, few people have been willing to speak as to the real reason the project failed. But the East Oregonian spoke with one of the leading IT experts on the project, a man that many in the Information Technology world refer to as a 'Borderline Genius.'
Tom Walsh is an economics and IT expert, and a few years ago he signed on as a consultant with the Oregon Healthcare Exchange. Oracle, the software giant (and the sponsor of the Golden State Warriors home court, Oracle Arena) was tasked with creating Oregon's Healthcare Exchange, called Cover Oregon.
Armed with hundreds of millions of dollars of our money, and getting a head start before many other states, the program soon collapsed and when the deadline arrived to open In November 2013, the website was not anywhere close to operational. It wasn't even finished enough to allow it to run. It resembled a crude private website still under construction.
Walsh says the reasons for the failure were as follows:
- Instead of creating a new software program from the ground up that would handle any and all healthcare enrollment and procedural duties, Oracle attempted to modify existing programs to make them fit the mold.
- Both Cover Oregon and Oracle project managers operated the project with a confusing system of multiple sub-managers, with different people reporting to different managers, and little communication with the actual designers.Workers often could not make decisions about important website elements because managers were never available.
- The system they built was not capable of processing important life-change events in a family or person's policy, such as birth of a child, death of a member, or tax credits. It couldn't even communicate with the insurance companies who were providing the coverage.
- Cronyism and inept hiring practices led to issues. Instead of relying on the best consultants and IT workers and listening to their advice, Oregon's top-down management style required workers to basically tell them what they wanted to hear. Millions of dollars were wasted with non-productive workers and managers.
Walsh and many of his fellow consultants felt had Oregon and some Oracle officials allowed everyone to do their job, the project would have worked. The initial design was very good, said Walsh.
But now it's too late. The failed system cost all that money, and will forever be the cornerstone of the epic failure that has been Obamacare.