Oregon, a state that fully embraced the Affordable
Care Act, has endured one of the rockiest rollouts of President
Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, requiring tens of thousands
of applicants to apply on paper since launching on October 1.
Managers of the state exchange, called Cover Oregon, have determined
it would cost about $78 million to fix and continue under the
beleaguered system, well above the projected cost of switching over
to the federal exchange, spokesman Alex Pettit said.
Under the latest proposal, the private insurance plans now offered
through Cover Oregon would be moved to the federal website, while
individuals seeking coverage under an expansion of Medicaid, a
state-federal healthcare plan for the needy, would apply through the
Oregon Health Authority, spokeswoman Ariane Holm said.
The recommendation came during a meeting of the Cover Oregon working
group put together last month in a bid to sort through the issues
plaguing the state exchange.
Several Cover Oregon officials, including two past directors of the
program, have resigned in recent months amid an independent
investigation that found mismanagement of the system and a failure
to report problems from the beginning.
Oregon is not alone. Officials in Maryland and Massachusetts also
considered shifting their state-run exchanges to the federal network
after experiencing technical problems.
Maryland ultimately kept its exchange intact using special
technology developed by Connecticut to manage the system, at a cost
of about $45 million, Pettit said.
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In addition to Oregon, the federal government already is running
exchanges for 36 states that initially declined to establish their
own networks, though at least two of those — New Mexico and Idaho — have said they plan to launch their own next year.
The Cover Oregon Board of Directors is expected to decide on
Friday whether to approve the recommended transfer.
Cover Oregon has already paid $134 million to Oracle Corp. for
development of the non-functioning website, and the state has
received roughly $300 million in federal grants for the program.
Members of Oregon's congressional delegation have called for a
further investigation of the failed state exchange.
(Reporting by Shelby Sebens; editing by Steve Gorman and Jan
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