Cover Oregon Board Discusses Short-Term Priorities

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After months in crisis mode, Cover Oregon’s board of directors is showing signs of taking a more proactive, assertive role in overseeing Cover Oregon staff and efforts to get the website live before open enrollment ends on March 31.

During the board’s Feb. 13 meeting, the chair, Liz Baxter, led a discussion laying out “short-term ends” and a “short-term road map” for the board’s March and April meetings.

“All we’re doing is being updated, but we haven’t actually driven what we’ve been updated on,” Baxter said.  “Given everything that is at risk right now, we need to have some way to prioritize what we should be looking at in future meetings.”

Board members identified the following priorities: getting a detailed update on getting the website live, contingency planning, developing the small business (SHOP) exchange, and the exchange’s relationship with Oracle, the software company responsible for building the website.

The desire for more detailed information echoes similar requests raised by Oregon’s Republican legislators, who are attempting to amend language in Cover Oregon-related legislation designed to make the exchange more transparent.

Some board members’ comments conveyed frustration over not getting information they had requested.  “There’s information that Oracle has been asked for several times, having to do with the [website’s] code on the web center, and they are ignoring that request,” board member Aelea Christofferson said.

“We’re not supposed to get down in the weeds,” said the board vice chair, Teri Andrews.  But Andrews agreed with other board members’ desire to see a list of software bugs and roadblocks still needing repair, and a timeline.

“It might be good to remember that some of us do have project experience in IT,” Christofferson told fellow board members.

Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Cover Oregon’s acting executive director, agreed to provide the board with the requested information.  He also said they would be briefed on various legal options Cover Oregon can pursue regarding its contract with Oracle.

Another issue raised during the discussion concerned how the board governs itself, using the “Carver model” of policy governance, and whether it’s a structure the board should continue using.  It’s a topic the “board development” subcommittee is meeting tomorrow to discuss.