Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What if TennCare Director Darin Gordon is Really a Performance Artist?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 5:30 AM

Can performance artists be funny? If so, then I'm beginning to suspect that we don't really have a TennCare director, but instead have some Monty Python-level prankster who's passing himself off as the TennCare director.

Because, really, there are only two possibilities for how to understand this story by Kate Harrison Belz over at the Times-Free Press about how the stupid TennCare website is still not working. Either it's almost unfathomably alarming, with the level of money wasted, blame shifted, and incompetence on display or it's a grand joke.

Check this out:

TennCare’s director acknowledged Tuesday that contractors have not finished even the first of four testing phases required to launch a new computer system that was supposed to begin handling Medicaid enrollment last October.

[...]

State lawmakers questioned TennCare Director Darin Gordon during a joint fiscal review committee meeting Tuesday, pressing him for details about the $35.7 million contract with Northrup Grumman to create the “Tennessee Eligibility Determination System,” or TEDS.

[...]

He said that the state had hired a third-party auditing firm, KGMT, to review how long completing the system will take. The review itself will take 14 weeks.

That's a joke, right? It reads like a joke. You've got the initial funny situation — that we're almost a year behind schedule and we haven't finished even the first testing phase. Then there's the build-up — that this late mess of a website is costing us $35.7 million. And then, the punchline, about how even the review to find out how long it will take to finish the system is going to take more than three months.

I'm considering asking Scene art guru, Laura Hutson, to weigh in on whether this works as performance art. Should we understand this as the state government actually throwing $35.7 million down the toilet in order to continue the farce of pretending to do something about bringing healthcare to most Tennesseans without actually doing anything? Or should we understand Darin Gordon as an artist attempting to draw attention to the the ludicrous lengths the state will go to fuck up healthcare?

Is Gordon one of the state's most incompetent villains or one of our bravest artists? I'm just not sure.

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