Oracle sues Oregon officials in dispute over healthcare website


PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – Oracle America Inc, the software giant in charge of developing the failed Oregon health exchange website, has filed a lawsuit against five former staff and campaign advisers at the former state governor, saying they worked behind the scenes to kill the site for political reasons, court documents show.

The company logo is displayed at Oracle Corporation headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., In this file photo from February 2, 2010. REUTERS / Robert Galbraith / Files

The company also warned state administrators on Thursday, the same day it filed a lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court, that it could file similar claims against former Governor John Kitzhaber and his former Chief of Staff, Mike Bonetto.

Oracle and the state are already battling in court over who is to blame for the failure of the $ 240.3 million system, and Oracle’s retrial seeks roughly $ 33 million in damages, according to The company lost spinoffs from the Cover Oregon program.

The lawsuit says Kitzhaber staff and advisers, who did not work for Cover Oregon, “improperly influenced” the decision to shut down the site, then accused Oracle of defusing the political consequences.

Former Kitzhaber campaign manager Patricia McCaig, consultants Kevin Looper and Mark Wiener, former trade policy director Scott Nelson and former spokesperson Tim Raphael are named in the lawsuit.

Oracle says the website was up and running before the state decided to move to the federal exchange in April.

“Work on the exchange was completed by February 2014, but bringing the website online and providing a means for all Oregonians to purchase health insurance coverage did not fit with the re-election strategy of the former governor to “sue” Oracle, “Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in a statement.

“Political agents Patricia McCaig, Kevin Looper, Scott Nelson, Tim Raphael and Mark Wiener have acted in the shadows and taken action to undermine the ability of Oregonians to obtain medical coverage; create a false narrative blaming Oracle for state failures; and ultimately interfere with Oracle’s business, ”she said.

Oregon was initially excited about the federal health plan, known as Obamacare. But the site built by Oracle never worked, and Oregonians were forced to submit paper applications. In April, Oregon switched to a federally administered stock exchange.

Kitzhaber resigned last week amid criminal investigations into an influence peddling scandal involving allegations his fiancee used his post in his office for personal gain.

Kitzhaber’s attorney could not be reached immediately for comment. Among those named in Thursday’s trial, Wiener and Looper declined to comment and the others could not be immediately contacted.

Shelby Sebens reporting; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech

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