House Oversight Committee Refers Failed Oregon Obamacare Exchange to DOJ For Criminal Investigation

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: May 25, 2016 10:00 AM
House Oversight Committee Refers Failed Oregon Obamacare Exchange to DOJ For Criminal Investigation

The House Oversight Committee released a report Wednesday detailing extreme misconduct surrounding Oregon's failed $305 million taxpayer funded Obamacare exchange and is calling on the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation. 

“The documents and testimony show Oregon State officials misused $305 million of federal funds and improperly coordinated with former Governor John Kitzhaber’s campaign advisers.  Official decisions were made primarily for political purposes.  Cover Oregon was established as an independent organization by the legislature, and was not intended to be a wholly controlled subsidiary of the Governor’s political apparatus," House Oversight Committee Chairman wrote in a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. "Evidence obtained by the Committee shows, however, close coordination between Governor Kitzhaber, his official staff, his campaign advisers, and the supposedly independent Cover Oregon.  The evidence we have uncovered implicates violations of state laws that restrict political activity by public employees.”

The report shows that despite multiple warnings the Oregon Obamacare exchange wasn't ready to launch on October 1, 2013, Democrat Governor Kitzhaber and his staff pushed through the launch (and $305 million in funding), anyway for political and ideological reasons, resulting in failure and an ultimate change over to the federal exchange. 

"The Governor’s office mixed campaign business and official business.  Kitzhaber’s Chief of Staff, Michael Bonetto, coordinated his re-election campaign team and the Governor’s official work on behalf of the state.  The Governor’s office used campaign funds to support the Governor in his official capacity," the report found. "Kitzhaber’s re-election campaign was concerned about the media coverage surrounding Cover Oregon and wanted to change the narrative in the media.  Kitzhaber’s political advisers made decisions about Cover Oregon with the Governor’s reelection campaign in mind."

The Oregon exchange isn't the only one that failed. Massachusetts, Maryland and Nevada were also epic failures in addition to Oregon, costing taxpayers nearly $500 million on top of the billions spent on Healthcare.gov. According to Americans for Tax Reform, the remaining 8 of 11 co-op exchanges are likely to collapse within the year. In total, more than $5.5 billion in federal tax dollars has been spent on failed, state-based exchanges.

You can read the entire report about the Oregon exchange and the need for a criminal investigation, here.