OPINION: The Bend Bulletin: Walden's GAO Ideas Has Promise

February 19, 2014

Walden on Cover Oregon Website: “If this were a car you’d been sold, you’d get it taken back under the lemon law.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders last week called for a government watchdog investigation of the failed Oregon health care exchange, Cover Oregon. As the letter explains, “no state has had more complications than Oregon.” Dan Springer explains on Fox News Special Report, “Of the 16 state health care exchange websites launched under Obamacare, Cover Oregon sets the bar for futility. After spending $160 million of a federal grant, the website has failed to sign up a single Oregonian from start to finish.” Making matters worse, the letter adds, “We are only now learning that Cover Oregon’s architects have known of the program’s design flaws for years. In fact, the warnings go as far back as November 2011.” The letter was signed by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA).

February 15, 2014

Editorial: Walden's GAO Idea Has Promise

Taxpayers need to know what went wrong with the expenditure of millions of dollars on the still nonfunctional Cover Oregon website. But how do we get beyond the political opportunism that undercuts the credibility of any effort?

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, thinks he has the answer: an investigation by the U.S. General Accountability Office.

It’s a good approach.

Walden and three House colleagues say a federal investigation is needed, because more than $300 million in federal taxes were granted for the troubled website. Walden cites the independence of the GAO, and the agency’s capacity to “give us a factual view of what transpired and what we can get back.”

Other investigatory efforts are underway, including a probe ordered by Gov. John Kitzhaber, queries from the Oregon Legislature, and information gathering by the National Republican Committee. Oregon gubernatorial candidate Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, is among those who say Oregon officials failed to act on reports of trouble long before the public became aware.

No matter their actual merits, all those efforts will be seen as tainted by politics, discounted by those from the other side of the aisle.

The GAO may not be entirely free from such criticism, but it does have a history of independence that should help. …

Read the complete piece online here.

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