State Health Exchange Can Conceal Contract Spending, AP Finds
California law grants authority to the state health insurance exchange to conceal spending on contracts, as well as other records, according to an Associated Press investigation, the AP/U-T San Diego reports.
Details of Contract Spending
Bids for government contracts are routinely kept secret until contracts are awarded so that one vendor cannot gain an unfair advantage during the bidding process.
However, California lawmakers have given the exchange board the authority to keep all contracts from being disclosed to the public for one year and to conceal the amounts paid for such contracts indefinitely.
The exchange also canÂ keep privateÂ records related to:
- Strategy of the board or its staff; and
- Those who provide instruction, advice or training for employees.
According to an AP review of 16 other states that have chosen to run their own health insurance exchanges, California is the most restrictive aboutÂ what exchange information is required toÂ be madeÂ public.
Terry Francke -- head of Californians Aware, a group that promotes government transparency -- said that provisions allowing the exchange to conceal such information could be declared unconstitutional.
He said, "Why couldn't the exchange do its job without this secrecy? What's the worst that could happen?"
Assembly Speaker John PÃ©rez (D-Los Angeles) said that the bill passed by the Legislature in 2010 authorizing the exchange's authority to conceal certain information is in accordance with the state constitution.Dana Howard -- a spokesperson for the exchange -- said that it complies with state law but declined to discuss in detail how the agency decides what information to conceal from the public (Blood, AP/U-T San Diego, 5/9). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.