A new investigation from the Associated Press reveals a behind-the-scenes look at California's health insurance exchange, seen as one of the most successful in the nation.
Reporter Michael Blood discovered that Covered California awarded $184 million in contracts without the use of competitive bidding.
Several of those contracts went to a consulting group whose founder had ties to the health agency's executive director.
Covered California is allowed to secure no-bid contracts in order to meet tight federal deadlines on healthcare, according to the AP report. So far, the exchange has charted success by signing up some 3.4 million state residents. It begins the second enrollment period next month.
But Covered California officials say the contracts have been used to complete critical tasks at the program. The process took place "completely with transparency and within the law," said Dana Howard, deputy director of communications for the agency. Howard said there was nothing "improper, illegal or inappropriate" about the contracts.
Covered California's Executive Director told the AP in a statement that the fledgling exchange "needed experienced individuals who could go toe-to-toe with health plans and bring to our consumers the best possible insurance value. Contractors like The Tori Group possess unique and deep health care experience to help make that happen and get the job done on a tight deadline."
For more on this, AP reporter Michael Blood joins Take Two.