PORTLAND, Ore. – Gov. John Kitzhaber’s staff hastily ended his scheduled one-on-one interview with KATU News on Thursday morning barely four minutes after it had begun when KATU began asking about problems with Cover Oregon’s website.
Kitzhaber was in Portland to discuss Cover Oregon’s new enrollment numbers even as he admitted the exchange’s costly and all-important website will likely not be functioning for the foreseeable future.
Despite the website’s disastrous launch – it was set to go live Oct. 1 – and KATU’s numerous reportsof botched enrollments, Kitzhaber claimed Cover Oregon is actually outperforming expectations.
“We figured that this would be a two-year process,” Kitzhaber said. “What we didn’t anticipate was actually this many (people enrolling).
“We thought it was going to take a year to get the 114,000 people who are eligible for the expansion under the (Affordable Care Act), so that was remarkable.”
The interview was cut short, however, soon after KATU asked about Kitzhaber’s knowledge of problems with Carolyn Lawson. Lawson, who as Chief Information Officer was responsible for the website’s technical development, resigned for “personal reasons” in November.
The governor claimed he didn’t know of problems with Lawson until late last year.
“In late October was when I first learned about the problems,” said Kitzhaber.
But in December 2012, 10 months before Kitzhaber said he first heard of the problems with the Cover Oregon website, Rep. Patrick Sheehan sent an email to the governor’s office warning him of problems, specifically with Lawson. KATU’s Investigators recently unearthed that message. Sheehan was a member of the legislative oversight committee for Cover Oregon.