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Friday, December 20, 2013

Carolyn Lawson, Overseer of Oregon's ObamaCare Exchange, Resigns

What?! Why?! Was it because no one has been able to sign up with the exchange unless they were getting Medicaid? Weird.

From The Oregonian: (via Jammie at JWF):

Carolyn Lawson, the embattled state technology executive who oversaw much of the development of Oregon's troubled health insurance exchange, has resigned for personal reasons.   
It was Lawson, chief information officer at the Oregon Health Authority, who decided the state could manage the complex exchange project itself, rather than hire a private-sector systems integrator, a decision since criticized by her superiors. Lawson also was close to Oracle Corp., the California technology giant that has been blamed for doing shoddy work and repeatedly missing deadlines.  
Nearly three months after the federal deadline for a functional health exchange website, Oregon's exchange has emerged as a technological train wreck and a PR nightmare. The state has paid more than $160 million and a fully functional site remains weeks -- perhaps months -- away.   
State officials have been forced to spend even more money gearing up a massive system of temporary employees and contractors to manually process paper applications for health insurance. 
Lawson started work for Oregon on July 1, 2011. The state paid her $178,992 a year
As The Oregonian reported Sunday, the exchange has been plagued by poor work by Oracle. Miscues by state managers have also figured prominently in the exchange's issues.

Wow. That is a lot of money shelled out for abject failure. But was it Flawson's failure? The answer is yes and no.

As Fox News noted:
Oregon leaders bragged for two years that it would have one of the nation's most advanced insurance marketplaces, but they were embarrassed when the online enrollment site wasn't ready to launch on schedule in October. It still doesn't work nearly three months later. 
The exchange has had to rely exclusively on paper applications, and it hired or reassigned more than 400 workers to process them manually. Oregon has been the slowest state to enroll people in private insurance, though the pace has picked up significantly in the past two weeks.  
Lawson came under fire a year ago when state lawmakers accused her of misleading them about available technologies. More recently, technology experts and her own boss have laid blame for the problem with her decision to have the state act as the project's systems integrator, a sort of general contractor to oversee the complex integration of disparate parts of multiple vendors. 
Lawson was hired in 2011 to oversee technology projects for the two state agencies that administer health and human services programs. The state had just approved creating a health insurance exchange, and it was tacked onto a separate project to modernize the internal computer systems for both agencies. 
Lawson was responsible for delivering the technology on a very tight schedule. 
The $48 million federal grant funding Lawson's work ran out unexpectedly in May. The development work was hastily handed over to staff at Cover Oregon, a semi-autonomous state agency created to run the exchange business using Lawson's technology.
So Oregon has their highly paid scapegoat and she's back in California. If it wasn't for Lawson, the exchange would be functioning beautifully... Uh, right?

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