Oregon healthcare exchange website never worked, has no subscribers
(Reuters) - Oregon, a state that fully embraced the Affordable Care Act, is enduring one of the rockiest rollouts of President Back Obama's signature health care law, with an inoperative online exchange that has yet to enroll a single subscriber, requiring thousands to apply on paper instead.
Unlike most other states, Oregon set an ambitious course to make its insurance exchange, dubbed Cover Oregon, an "all-in-one" website for every individual seeking health coverage, including those who are eligible for Medicaid.
But instead of serving as a national model, Oregon's experience has emerged as a cautionary tale, inviting comparisons to technical glitches that have plagued other state-run portals and the federal government's website for those states lacking exchanges of their own.
Oregon's online exchange has remained inaccessible to the public, requiring the state to sign up applicants the old-fashioned way, using paper forms. This has made comparison shopping more difficult for consumers and severely slowed the enrollment process.
"Oregonians have questions," said state Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat, in a written statement on Tuesday. "What went wrong with the rollout? How are they going to fix it? When are they going to get it right? Is the website contractor doing everything it can? Our people need to know."
Courtney urged state lawmakers to "ask the hard questions" of officials overseeing the state's healthcare exchange, and the Oregon Health Authority, at a pair of legislative hearings on the program scheduled for Wednesday.
With its online insurance marketplace out of commission and unavailable to the public indefinitely, the state has resorted to urging would-be subscribers to fill out applications that are between nine and 19 pages long by hand, said Michael Cox, a spokesman for Cover Oregon.
In the meantime, the program has hired about 400 temporary workers to help process those applications before January 1, when the new plans are due to take effect, Cox said.
As part of that effort, staff members from his office are fanning out to hotel conference rooms and other venues across the state over the next week to help prospective enrollees complete the forms, he said.
Nearly 25,000 individuals and families have so far submitted hard-copy applications, Cox said, with nearly two-thirds of those applicants eligible for Medicaid, a federal-state healthcare plan for the needy.
But none of those applicants has actually been enrolled, with manual processing of the paperwork slowing the process dramatically.
Separately, about 70,000 residents have signed up for Medicaid by responding to letters sent by the state to more than 200,000 people deemed eligible for the program by virtue of their receiving food stamps, Cox said.
By comparison, Oregon's neighbor to the south, California - with a population 10 times larger - enrolled about 31,000 people in an Affordable Care Act plan last month, and added 29,000 in the first 12 days of November.
California had much farther to go, with an estimated 7.3 million adults and children lacking insurance in 2011, compared with 560,000 counted as uninsured that year in Oregon.
Jesse Ellis O'Brien, a healthcare advocate with the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, which pushed for the exchange, said he is "surprised and frustrated" by its ongoing woes but hopeful that they will be resolved within the next month or two.
"Once the website is functional it will provide a lot of valuable tools for consumers to make informed comparisons between plans," he said.
A spokesman for Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and medical doctor who supported the Affordable Care Act, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Greg Leo, chairman of Oregon's Republican Party and an avowed foe of the 2010 healthcare reform law, said its troubled rollout in Oregon underscores his view that patients would be better served by a system managed by the private sector.
"I don't take any joy in this," he said. "This creates a lot of harm for citizens in Oregon and nationally. It's a tragedy, and it further erodes people's confidence in government."
heres blue statement you tell me if he didnt get caught i a lie. remember this was before anyone knew how the Oregon site was working LMAO
let's look at a state that actually went with the program and started a state insurance marketplace, my home state of Oregon. I make too much to qualify for subsidies so I opted to keep the plan I have. My entire families policy went up a whopping 30 dollars, a welcomed price to pay for forcing Big Insurance to cover sick kids that they previously refused to help. Nobody in Oregon is experiencing the ridiculous problems that
red states are having with loss of policies and rate increases. Blame GOP run red states who are punishing their citizens, not the ACA. Oregon is proof that competition in a state run marketplace works.
why are you so eager to see the law fail? Wouldn't it be better if it did give health insurance to those who need it and ended up saving money in the long run? I don't think the bill should have been pressed through without any republican support but as we can all see the republicans didn't have any intention of working with the president, they were focused on making him a one term president.
I clearly remember blue telling us how great the Oregon sign up plan was. Now he says he didn't say that but offers no proof of what he said. Typical, I guess he's too stoned to remember anything he says or ever said.
Didn't he say his new plan was $30 more?....I am flabbergasted with all the story versions of this EPIC FAIL. But then, blue is a purveyor of lies and falsehood and is known to bear false witness against another, which is a MAJOR sin every believer knows not to be involved in. All you can do at this point in time is to pray for blue, that he seeks forgiveness and repentance.
Yet another contard lie. I said, FOR THE LAST TIME, I was able to log on, enter my info, be told I DID NOT qualify for a subsidy, so I had to stay with my current plan offered by my employer which went up a whopping 30 dollars. All you people have is lies and spin. Complete and total desperation. Quit preaching, hypocrite, we all see through your lies and hypocrisy.
You are an idiot, refusing to admit the Truth, instead running with a lie. shame on you. Lying is all you have. Pull up my original post, re-read it and realize what a child you look like.