A California law that created an agency to oversee national health care reforms granted it sweeping authority to conceal spending on the contractors that will perform most of its functions, creating a barrier from public disclosure that stands out nationwide.
The degree of secrecy afforded Covered California appears unique among states attempting to establish their own health insurance exchanges under President Barack Obama's signature health law.
An Associated Press review of the 16 other states that have opted for state-run marketplaces shows the California agency was given powers that are the most restrictive in what information is required to be made public.
In Massachusetts, the state that served as the model for Obama's health overhaul, its Health Connector program is specifically covered by open-records laws, rather than providing exemptions from them, as is the case for contracting in California.
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