U-T San Diego: California gives no-bid health pacts

FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2013 file photo, Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, talks at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Long before it opened its doors to the public last fall, California's health insurance exchange awarded a small contract to a business consultant, Leesa Tori, for her advice on designing a program to sell insurance to small companies The industry veteran was a friend and former co-worker of Peter Lee, the exchange's top executive. The seemingly minor deal would mark the beginning of a lucrative and far-reaching partnership between the new state agency and the boutique consulting company Tori formed last year, just as national health care reform took root across the U.S.  (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE – In this Nov. 13, 2013 file photo, Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, talks at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Long before it opened its doors to the public last fall, California’s health insurance exchange awarded a small contract to a business consultant, Leesa Tori, for her advice on designing a program to sell insurance to small companies The industry veteran was a friend and former co-worker of Peter Lee, the exchange’s top executive. The seemingly minor deal would mark the beginning of a lucrative and far-reaching partnership between the new state agency and the boutique consulting company Tori formed last year, just as national health care reform took root across the U.S. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File) The Associated Press 

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California’s health insurance exchange has awarded $184 million in contracts without the competitive bidding and oversight that is standard practice across state government, including deals that sent millions of dollars to a firm whose employees have long-standing ties to the agency’s executive director.

Covered California’s no-bid contracts were for a variety of services, ranging from public relations to paying for ergonomic adjustments to work stations, according to an Associated Press review of contracting records obtained through the state Public Records Act.

Several of those contracts worth a total of $4.2 million went to a consulting firm, The Tori Group, whose founder has strong professional ties to agency Executive Director Peter Lee, while others were awarded to a subsidiary of a health care company he once headed.

Awarding no-bid contracts is unusual in state government, where rules promote “open and fair competition” to give taxpayers the best deal and avoid ethical conflicts. The practice is generally reserved for emergencies or when no known competition exists.

Continue reading here: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/12/ap-exclusive-california-gives-no-bid-health-pacts/?#article-copy

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