Oh, boy: CoverOregon’s executive director taking a leave of absence

posted at 6:51 pm on December 2, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The federal ObamaCare exchange is a tough act to beat in terms of their epically botched website design, but the state of Oregon’s individually designed exchange has been presenting some stiff competition with nary an enrollee signed up through the website to date. The Obama administration is still putting on a good show of talking in circles around their self-imposed and made-up deadlines, but Oregon officials haven’t even bothered to guesstimate a date by which their still-unfurled website will be up and running. The LA Times had a pretty damning piece up over the weekend about Oregon’s tech-savvy reputation versus the reality of their own glitchy rollout:

In Oregon, a state envied for its high tech, sign-ups under the new federal healthcare law have been anything but.

About 400 newly hired workers in Salem are processing paper applications by the thousands for health insurance under President Obama‘s law. They review each 19-page application, calculate eligibility for tax subsidies, and then mail back a packet of each consumer’s options — which the customers must mail back to complete the sign-up process.

Meanwhile, at the headquarters of Cover Oregon, the agency set up by the state to run its transition under the Affordable Care Act, dozens of software engineers have fanned out at long tables on the first floor, trying to untangle the technical problems that have made Oregon the only state with a health insurance exchange that has yet to go online.

One floor up is the “Go Live Situation Room,” where the state’s tech pros strategize around a conference table. But the name hints at the irony: There is no “go live” date for Cover Oregon’s exchange.

Also like the federal exchange, however, it now appears that — for whatever reason — Oregon is looking for somebody else to come in and take charge of the virtual catastrophe.

Cover Oregon Executive Director Rocky King will step down for a three-month medical leave starting Dec. 3, a state spokesperson said Monday.

The Cover Oregon Board said it would begin looking for an interim executive director during King’s leave of absence. Bruce Goldberg, M.D. will serve as director until the position can be filled, the state said.

“Rocky has been dedicated to building Oregon’s health insurance exchange so that individuals and small businesses can get coverage,” said Gov. John Kitzhaber. “I know how difficult it is for him to leave during this crucial time, but he has to put his health first. I have full faith in Bruce Goldberg to continue to get people enrolled and address Cover Oregon’s IT issues.”

The governor, who was out sick with a cold Monday, declined requests for on-camera interviews.

Oregon officials also announced on Monday that the state has enrolled 3,500 residents in ObamaCare plans so far, but the LA Times reports that of the at least 40,000 paper applications they have received, many of those are likely for Medicaid signups — which, combined with the website’s ongoing problems, could be very bad news:

That is potentially a major problem for Oregon, which, like every state, is aiming for high turnout among the young and healthy to offset the inclusion of older and sicker customers. The inability to directly enroll online “will probably be the greatest deterrent to people who essentially feel they are healthy and don’t need insurance,” said Deborah Chollet, a health insurance expert at Mathematica Policy Research, based in Princeton, N.J. The 11 insurance companies offering plans on the exchange have not received any data from the state, leaving them in the dark about the mix of enrollees.

Younger people in particular are more inclined to do things electronically and more frustrated if they cannot; people who have health problems are going to be motivated to overcome that frustration,” Chollet said.


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Maybe he’s going to hang out with Martin Bashir. h/t HA Headlines.

22044 on December 2, 2013 at 7:03 PM

How would anyone know?

AndrewsDad on December 2, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Oh, I thought he was leaving to spend more time with his family.

Philly on December 2, 2013 at 7:06 PM

ADRIAN…

AltTuning on December 2, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Cover Oregon Executive Director Rocky King will step down for a three-month medical leave starting Dec. 3, a state spokesperson said Monday.

obviously doesn’t have zerosurance.

Fred

jrsrigmvr on December 2, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Is Oregon really a State? Or just the northernmost County of CA?

wolly4321 on December 2, 2013 at 7:12 PM

At what point are we going to have to take a closer look at the USPS role in all of this?

BKeyser on December 2, 2013 at 7:13 PM

I want my 19 page application delivered by drone.

(amazon designed,, not ratheon)

wolly4321 on December 2, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Maybe if they’d stopped taking ‘toke breaks’ the system would have worked.

GarandFan on December 2, 2013 at 7:32 PM

Uh oh, he’s sick? He should go buy health insura . . . . oh, never mind.

SoRight on December 2, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Frau Syphilis called and told the guy he might have early-onset lead poisoning and maybe he should get it checked out before it became permanent.

Bishop on December 2, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Maybe we should ask Rocky where he spent the $200 million in Federal dollars. On the website, or his retirement home? Medical leave, huh?

Hill60 on December 2, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Rocky has been dedicated to building Oregon’s health insurance exchange so that individuals and small businesses can get coverage,” said Gov. John Kitzhaber. “I know how difficult it is for him to leave during this crucial time, but he has to put his health first. I have full faith in Bruce C. Rube Goldberg to continue to get people enrolled and address Cover Oregon’s IT issues.”

Fixed it.

Implementation was “Rocky” before. Now it is slated to be “Rube Goldberg.” You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

JohnD13 on December 2, 2013 at 7:43 PM

The 11 insurance companies offering plans on the exchange have not received any data from the state, leaving them in the dark about the mix of enrollees.

Ummm, don’t the insurance companies know the mix of their own enrollees? Allegedly there are 3,500 enrollees in Oregon.

But maybe by “enrollee” they mean “a packet is in the mail” to the potential enrollee. Makes about as much sense as the shopping cart metric O’s lackies are citing.

Mayday on December 2, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Gonna be eating a lot of popcorn in 2014. This is going to be good.

msupertas on December 2, 2013 at 7:45 PM

I am just mind boggled how much of a Charlie Foxtrot this has been for the states as well. Since the states have had problems rolling this out I expect there are problems on the Federal Governemnt backend which if I recall the state exchanges must interact with as well.

So many websites set up by different governments and the only commonality between all of them is the backend that according to the federal government is “working”

I call BS

F15Mech on December 2, 2013 at 7:47 PM

They spent the millions and millions that should have gone into the web-site on that “awesome” hippie commercial.

AUINSC on December 2, 2013 at 7:47 PM

He spent the $200 mil on a killer stash.

Philly on December 2, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Wow, maybe they should have shot for walking on one’s own feet instead of flying on one’s own wings.

Happy Nomad on December 2, 2013 at 7:58 PM

Cover Oregon Executive Director Rocky King will step down for a three-month medical leave starting Dec. 3, a state spokesperson said Monday.

I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of this sabatical but it sure comes at a convienient time! Three months away from the scene of the crime with options that the health problems persist! All after a massive fail of the system.

Rocky King should be fired not allowed to step down for a few monthy until the mess is cleaned up.

Happy Nomad on December 2, 2013 at 8:04 PM

So is Bashir

Schadenfreude on December 2, 2013 at 8:10 PM

One floor up is the “Go Live Situation Room,” where the state’s tech pros strategize around a conference table. But the name hints at the irony: There is no “go live” date for Cover Oregon’s exchange.

“We don’t know nuthin ’bout insurance….we’re all still on mom and dads policy”

BobMbx on December 2, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Let’s pretend that subsidies are all hunky dory and all of that. Let’s also pretend that Oregon processes all of these apps in time. Let’s make believe that hippies on LSD in 2013 is awesome. Okay, how does anyone know, let alone the insurance companies, that the applicants’ statements are true and they are entitled to these subsidies? What if they hand out a policy to people who lied on their apps? Is the policy nullified? Does anyone check? What about services already paid for under false circumstances, etc?

I don’t get it.

Borgcube on December 2, 2013 at 8:15 PM

Is Oregon really a State? Or just the northernmost County of CA?

wolly4321 on December 2, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Them’s fightin’ words.

Sockpuppet Politic on December 2, 2013 at 8:36 PM

That would be “still furled” would it not, Erika?

AshleyTKing on December 2, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Where’s the GOP leadership talking points on these disasters?

Oh wait, Mitch McConnell is busy stabbing conservatives in the back and John Boehner is crying over the Capital dome. We are so screwed.

Mr. Arrogant on December 2, 2013 at 9:25 PM

…Oregon officials haven’t even bothered to guesstimate a date by which their still-unfurled website will be up and running.

One of us doesn’t know what unfurled means.

rogaineguy on December 2, 2013 at 11:32 PM

With all these officials getting “sick,” it’s a good thing they now have insurance.

Oh wait…

PattyJ on December 3, 2013 at 1:13 AM

Oregon is taking over pot-growing from N.California to supply the big market in Washington state. Cash payment for medical service (with free air fare) to one of the Asian Tiger’s cut-rate medical care centers will be the new norm.

trl on December 3, 2013 at 5:01 AM

I love OR and would like to live on the coast except you can’t pump your own gas or do a lot of other things without libs getting in the way, oh and the way too high taxes for what is done in return. They could have given every one in the state a million dollars and still had a huge surplus left over from that website money. Governments are so good at wasting our dough.

Kissmygrits on December 3, 2013 at 9:02 AM