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Topics: Obamacare

Cover Oregon turnaround bill: $600K and rising

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News,Business,Obamacare,Oregon,Health Care,Health Care Exchanges

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As he wraps up his work, a corporate turnaround expert initially hired for $100,000 to fix Oregon's troubled health care insurance exchange has billed the state for nearly $600,000 under an expanded contract, a newspaper reported.

The current deal between Clyde Hamstreet and the state sets a ceiling of $750,000 for work on Cover Oregon.

Hamstreet was hired after the state agency launched a website that couldn't come close to fulfilling the promise of seamless online signups for health insurance.

The state spent more than $200 million in federal money on the effort, including the website itself, an advertising campaign and a campaign to enroll people by paperwork when online signups failed.

As Hamstreet worked through the problems and brought on two executives, the scope of the contract and its amount were increased.

Hamstreet largely finished his work in July, and the last day for his two executives was Friday. He hasn't yet submitted an invoice for August, The Oregonian (http://is.gd/N6aZIq) reported Thursday.

After forcing out three top Cover Oregon officials, Gov. John Kitzhaber asked Hamstreet in April to handle what was supposed to be a four- to six-week job.

"We didn't do this job to make a lot of money off the state," Hamstreet said. "Our philosophy was to try and help get the boat righted and try to help clean things up and basically help the state. ... It turned out to be a bigger engagement than I expected."

One delay involved the state's hiring of a new executive director, which took until July. The Cover Oregon board hired Aaron Patnode, a former Kaiser executive who said Hamstreet and his executives did exceptional work on tasks that included:

— Shelving the technology involved in the state's dealings with software giant Oracle. Both sides are suing other, and the state plans to hook up to the federal exchange instead.

— Renegotiating contracts, cutting spending and reducing the staff size from 189 to 158.

— Boosting morale and communication.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com

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