Retiring Cover Oregon manager fires off damning email about state leaders
SALEM, Ore. -- Rotten. Absurd. Unworkable.
Those are just a few of the words in a damning email sent by a retiring Cover Oregon manager to all staff this week. Tom Jovick's email lashed out at Cover Oregon and state leaders for their disastrous handling of the state health insurance exchange, which is now so dysfunctional the $248 million project has been dumped in favor of the federal exchange.
Jovick, a Cover Oregon special projects manager who's worked at the agency since Nov. 1 2012, fired off the email on Wednesday, the same day he retired from Cover Oregon.
The On Your Side Investigators obtained the email from Cover Oregon Friday.
The email begins innocuously with Jovick writing, "I thought I'd give you a brief perspective, based on what I've seen here and where I've been before."
However, Jovick's very next line launches right into his frustrations at Cover Oregon: "I know you're all disgusted, resentful and angry. Who wouldn't be if subject to the same morass of excrement you all have had to tolerate."
By the third paragraph, Jovick lambasts Gov. John Kitzhaber and former Cover Oregon executive director Bruce Goldberg, who now acts as an adviser since resigning as the agency's chief in April.
"(The governor) put Bruce in charge -- the one person, together with his OHA IT Director, who is most responsible for the completely unworkable and cockamamie system we received from Oracle and OHA," Jovick wrote.
The Oregon Health Authority, or OHA as it is commonly called, was responsible for shepherding the creation of Oregon's health insurance exchange project, which later became known as Cover Oregon. Carolyn Lawson, former chief information officer for the OHA and Department of Human Services (DHS), oversaw the bulk of the Cover Oregon website development. Lawson resigned in December after fumbling the project.
Control of the exchange project shifted to Cover Oregon in May 2013 - earlier than expected - because Lawson had burned through all of her funding: a $48 million 'early innovator' grant the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare services had awarded Oregon back in 2011.
Jovick's email goes on to say, "Bruce and his IT Director handed us one of the most rotten and absurd unworkable system applications imaginable. And they spent our federal funds doing it. Go figure!"
When the scale of the technology disaster became clear and the governor asked for resignations from two key Cover Oregon leaders, Jovick wrote "The Governor effectively threw the entire staff under the bus.... The chairman of the Cover Oregon board lines up the rest of the board members in full support of it."
Jovick left no stone unturned. He also had choice words for Oracle, Cover Oregon's main software developer, the OHA, and OHA's spokeswoman Patty Wentz.
"Bruce brought Patty here to direct Communications, but she turned it into more of a propaganda ministry than a true communications department," Jovick continued. "Both of them proceeded to act with insulting, condescending, dismissive, intimidating, blaming, clandestine and generally nasty behavior toward a lot of staff."
The one Cover Oregon leader Jovick appeared to protect was Goldberg's predecessor, original Cover Oregon executive director Rocky King. King resigned in January citing medical reasons.
"The Governor, with the support of his health care and campaign advisors, trashed Rocky," Jovick wrote.
The second half of Jovick's email praises the hardworking employees at Cover Oregon who he wrote, "figured out how to make the impossible work successfully" with "professionalism, integrity, creativity, mutual support, and dedication."
Jovick wrote that working at Cover Oregon "is not a black mark" on his colleagues' resumes.
He encouraged his coworkers not to waste energy or "negative emotions" on "Bruce, Patty, the Governor and his staff, Oracle, and the board. ..."
The On Your Side Investigators reached out to every person and organization named in his email. All declined to comment. Wentz did not return messages.
KATU also tried reaching Jovick for comment but he did not return messages by Friday evening.
Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website:
- Emails further suggest Cover Oregon used 'smoke and mirrors' for fed money
- New emails suggest Cover Oregon leaders started celebrating far too early
- KATU investigation finds Oracle shares blame with Cover Oregon for website disaster
- Panel recommends Oregon move to federal health exchange
- Oracle says it's not to blame for failed launch of Cover Oregon
- No decision on future of Cover Oregon but options narrowed to two
- Report: Federal exchange cheapest fix for Cover Oregon
- Cover Oregon goes to Congress, defends work that's been done
- Cover Oregon invites public to once-secret oversight meetings
- Top Cover Oregon IT official resigns
- Cover Oregon: Apply for insurance in April and avoid federal penalty
- Cover Oregon makes secret meetings public, won't explain the change
- Secret Cover Oregon oversight meetings may violate public meetings law
- Cover Oregon announces $1 million ad blitz to raise awareness
- Months later, Gresham woman still wondering if she has health insurance
- Portland tech company to governor: We can fix Cover Oregon's website
- State granted one-month extension for Cover Oregon enrollment
- First Data report: Cover Oregon didn't have federally required backup plan
- Watch: Your Voice Your Future Town Hall: Cover Oregon
- Cover Oregon confessions: Are they playing games with your health?
- New report answers many Cover Oregon questions - often for second time
- Cover Oregon directory Goldberg resigns; Governor releases investigation findings
- Cover Oregon: Still pushing for deadline extension
- Oregon tied for last in nation for young-adult health-insurance sign-ups
- Cover Oregon: Apply now if you want health insurance this year
- Federal government announces Cover Oregon investigation
- Former Cover Oregon director says 'all of us' share blame for failures
- Top Cover Oregon official refuses to discuss Lawson resignation
- Official: Oracle not allowing Cover Oregon probe access to 6 employees
- Trouble with Cover Oregon? You may still get federal tax credits
- Cover Oregon website developer pulls 100 worker off project
- Ex-Cover Oregon website chief: 'I stuck to the talking points ... they were not accurate'
- High-level IT consultant on Cover Oregon: 'They didn't know what they were doing'
- New Cover Oregon allegations: 'If it's true, someone's going to prison.'
- Paging Dr. Kitzhaber: What did the governor know about Cover Oregon collapse?
- State rep., U.S. Senate candidate calls for the end of Cover Oregon
- Cover Oregon head: State might scrap all or part of failing website
- State lawmakers to grill Cover Oregon chief
- Family struggles to sign up for insurance through Cover Oregon
- First legal complaint filed over health enrollment mistakes
- Democratic state lawmaker believes Cover Oregon can be saved
- Contractor plans to examine why Cover Oregon failed
- 'We look like fools:' A history of Cover Oregon's failure
- State rep: Ditch Cover Oregon in favor of federal exchange
- Video: Exclusive Interview: Gov. John Kitzhaber - Cover Oregon 1/9/2014
- Gov. denies prior knowledge of Cover Oregon failure, exits exclusive KATU interview
- Kitzhaber outlines Cover Oregon's next steps: 'I can't give you a date'
- Kitzhaber: Firm will review Cover Oregon failures
- Cover Oregon applications left in limbo?
- Man with cancer waiting on Cover Oregon, gets insured
- Man with cancer still waiting on Cover Oregon
- New calls for Cover Oregon to take responsibility for project failures
- Rocky King, director of troubled Cover Oregon, resigns
- Salem man says Cover Oregon error left him in health care limbo
- Some question if they'll be covered by Cover Oregon in the new year
- What doomed Cover Oregon? 'Mismanagement,' say former employees
- After resigning, Lawson not talking about Cover Oregon website failures
- Ore. health official in charge of building Cover Oregon website resigns
- Fewer enrollments challenge Oregon exchange budget
- Executive director of Cover Oregon taking medical leave
- Cover Oregon considers new solutions
- Kitzhaber calls for independent review of Cover Oregon
- New emails show Cover Oregon unraveling in days before launch
- Emails: Cover Oregon executive knew about website problems in May
- Cover Oregon complicated by state's grand vision