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Top Cover Oregon IT Official Resigns

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(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The housecleaning continues at Oregon’s troubled health-insurance exchange, with the resignation of a fourth top manager.

Cover Oregon’s chief information officer Aaron Karjala, who has worked to fix the botched exchange since May, resigned on Monday, spokeswoman Ariane Holm said.

The resignation comes two weeks after Gov. John Kitzhaber told Cover Oregon’s board to replace Karjala and chief operating officer Triz delaRosa.

An independent investigation found state managers repeatedly failed to heed reports about technical problems that prevented the exchange from launching. It still doesn’t work.

Oregon’s online exchange is the only one in the country that still doesn’t allow the general public to enroll from start to finish in one sitting. Instead, the public and Cover Oregon staff must use a hybrid paper-online process to enroll, despite $134 million in federal funding spent on building the exchange.

Karjala served as Cover Oregon’s CIO since 2011, but he formally took over building the exchange in May 2013, when the project was handed over to Cover Oregon by the Oregon Health Authority.

It was the Oregon Health Authority that chose Oracle Corp. to build the exchange, made the decision not to use a systems integrator, and controlled the money for most of the project. Though the agency was to deliver a working exchange to Cover Oregon last spring, testing in May showed the exchange’s coding was deeply flawed.

Under Karjala’s lead, Cover Oregon worked with Oracle to fix the botched project, but the Oct. 1 launch was missed. Over the next six months, Cover Oregon and Oracle repeatedly promised the exchange would soon launch to the public, only to miss deadline after deadline.

The health authority’s chief information officer, Carolyn Lawson, resigned in December, followed by Cover Oregon executive director Rocky King’s resignation in January.

The independent review found poor management at Cover Oregon, “unrealistic optimism,” poor communication, and an overly ambitious project scope as key reasons for the project fiasco. The review prompted the resignation of health authority director Bruce Goldberg, who remains interim director of Cover Oregon until a new director is hired.

Officials said the state’s chief information officer, Alex Pettit, will replace Karjala temporarily, and Karjala will remain at the exchange for the next four to six weeks to help with the transition. Triz delaRosa remains at Cover Oregon.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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