Oregon officially dumps exchange for Healthcare.gov

posted at 12:01 pm on April 28, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Following rumors that the state would dump its ObamaCare exchange, Oregon made it official on Friday. After spending $300 million on a web portal that never enrolled a single person, Cover Oregon’s board of directors voted to become the first state to shut down its own exchange in favor of the federal Healthcare.gov site:

The Oregon board overseeing the state’s deeply flawed health insurance exchange unanimously approved the Obama administration’s plan Friday to take over the marketplace, making Oregon the first state to drop its enrollment Web site for HealthCare.gov.

Directors of the exchange, Cover Oregon, voted Friday to drop its enrollment Web site, which hadn’t fully recovered from a failed launch Oct. 1. Oregon, which was awarded $305 million in federal grants to build the exchange, remains the only state not allowing full online enrollment in Affordable Care Act health plans.

The vote came after Cover Oregon’s top technology official publicly recommended Thursday that the switch be made to HealthCare.gov, but state and federal officials had already agreed to shut down the Oregon-run insurance marketplace for the next enrollment period, scheduled to start Nov. 15. Despite the technology troubles, about 65,000 residents have obtained private insurance plans through Cover Oregon, which has used a hybrid enrollment process requiring paper applications.

“Using the federal technology represents the lowest-risk option,” said Alex Pettit, the exchange’s top technology official. It is estimated that the switch will cost $5 million.

The LA Times’s Maria La Ganga notes that the website will be an albatross in the midterm elections in Oregon, where the governor and one of the state’s US Senators will have to answer for the expensive flop:

With its 7-0 vote, the board of directors for Cover Oregon acknowledged that the state exchange was too expensive and too troubled to fix. Although the state has spent an estimated $248 million to get the operation up and running, it never enrolled a single private insurance customer online. …

One of the only things certain Friday was that policy considerations had quickly given way to political ones. Gov. John Kitzhaber, a former emergency room physician who has dedicated his career to healthcare reform, is up for reelection in November. So is U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley. Neither Democrat commented Friday, but their Republican opponents wasted little time before pouncing.

State Rep. Dennis Richardson, who is considered the GOP front-runner for governor, accused Kitzhaber of committing “gubernatorial malpractice” in the exchange’s troubles.

“We knew this was coming,” Richardson said in an interview Friday. “The system has been destined to fail from at least a year before the launch date.… We’re stuck paying the bill, the taxpayers are.”

Dr. Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon and GOP contender for Merkley’s seat, issued a statement Friday describing herself as “the only U.S. Senate candidate who has opposed Obamacare and Cover Oregon from day one.”

“This latest move to the federal exchange,” Wehby said, “still doesn’t solve the root of the problem. Obamacare is bad for Oregon.”

It also ignores the fact that Healthcare.gov still hasn’t been completely built. In fact, as Erika pointed out on Saturday but is worth repeating here, Oregon just committed to relying on a system that “is still missing massive, critical pieces,” and will for the foreseeable future:

The Obamacare website may work for people buying insurance, but beneath the surface, HealthCare.gov is still missing massive, critical pieces — and the deadline for finishing them keeps slipping.

As a result, the system’s “back end” is a tangle of technical workarounds moving billions of taxpayer dollars and consumer-paid premiums between the government and insurers. The parts under construction are essential for key functions such as accurately paying insurers. The longer they lag, experts say, the likelier they’ll trigger accounting problems that could leave the public on the hook for higher premium subsidies or health care costs.

It’s an overlooked chapter in the health care law’s story that has largely escaped scrutiny because consumers aren’t directly affected. Yet it bolsters the Republican narrative that the government has mishandled the implementation of Obamacare. …

When that front end failed disastrously on Oct. 1, the administration diverted every resource to fix it, further delaying the behind-the-scenes technical functions. The deadline for completing those pieces gave way to January and then to mid-March. Senior officials said early last month that they hoped to have the entire system ready by the summer. Now, even summer appears to be a question mark.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services — the federal agency overseeing HealthCare.gov and new insurance exchanges — refused to provide an update on just how much of the back end remains incomplete, the current issues they face and their latest timetable.

This lovely update hit the news cycle late on Friday afternoon, just the same as Cover Oregon’s decision to throw in the towel on its $300 million investment. As far as ObamaCare’s failures being a “Republican narrative,” Guy Benson calls that reality:

That’s not so much a “Republican narrative” as it is a “patently obvious reality.” As crucial pieces of the website continue to be built – seven months after everything was supposed to be ready to do, and with updated “deadlines slipping” — all sorts of problems may rear their head. Phantom enrollments, potentially leading to tragic confusion. And as the story points out, the potential for higher costs to families and taxpayers. One health insurance CEO recently stated that a significant portion of 2015′s premium spikes are a direct result of the administration’s haphazard and unpredictable “fixes” to Obamacare. One wonders how a messy data reconciliation process might continue to impact costs in the coming years. Another point we’ve made repeatedly is that the White House’s chest thumping on enrollment figures is useless without an accurate sense of how many “enrollees” have actually completed the full process to obtain coverage. We know, for instance, that the administration missed badly on its target for “young invincible” sign-ups. We don’t have any official national stats on payment delinquency, or the percentage of “new” enrollees who previously had coverage.

Both Guy and Erika highlighted the part of the Politico story on this Friday afternoon news dump that the missing pieces of the back end mean that the “eight million enrollments” will likely be considerably lower. We already knew that, but the presumption was that the back end would get installed this summer. That would have given insurers much better data with which to calculate premiums in 2015. Now they will likely have to use worst-case estimates, which means premiums are going to rapidly increase again in the next enrollment period — and businesses will start adjusting to that this summer.

The website’s not the only part of ObamaCare that’s incomplete.


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But these Obamacare posts are about whistling past the graveyard, by next Novemeber Democrats will be openly running on the ACA. Mark my words.
libfreeordie on December 20, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

But they meant well.

Akzed on April 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

If Wehby wins in Oregon, that would be one of the all time biggest upsets…oh, my…if only!!

right2bright on April 28, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Wish there was an immunization shot for bamscare.

31giddyup on April 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

…but…but…but…aren’t they part of the 8 or cabillion million people that have signed up already?

KOOLAID2 on April 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

I think the poster is right, as I pointed out:

They can’t run on the jobs, economy, energy, foreign policy, all in even worse shape…the only thing they have is the blind stupidity of liberals to buy whatever line they give them.

And they can say…it will improve, it will get better.

They can’t say that about a 1-20-trillion dollar debt, and unemployment at record levels for a record amount of time.

right2bright on April 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

300 Million…

PatriotRider on April 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

The scam is working perfectly: Single payer in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.

erp on April 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

They can’t run on the jobs, economy, energy, foreign policy, all in even worse shape…the only thing they have is the blind stupidity of liberals to buy whatever line they give them.

right2bright on April 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

NO, the only thing they have is the even blinder stupidity of the Rs. You must be clear in your thinking.

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

After spending $300 million on a web portal that never enrolled a single person, Cover Oregon’s board of directors voted to become the first state to shut down its own exchange in favor of the federal Healthcare.gov site:

So….. when all was said and done, not one person was able to fly on their own wings.

Happy Nomad on April 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Where is the money. I want someone in Oregon to ask where the money went and if the web portal does not work then I suggest someone should be in jail for fraud.

jaywemm on April 28, 2014 at 12:13 PM

I am sure the likes of the Daily Kos and HuffPo will be necessarily up in arms over this evil red state deciding to use the federal exchange and short change their citizens….oh wait.

airupthere on April 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Not even azzhole Rove is happy with his RINOs.

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:17 PM

…but…but…but…aren’t they part of the 8 or cabillion million people that have signed up already?

KOOLAID2 on April 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

You know how these things work.

The numbers are all fiction. When they needed 7 million for success, gosh darn if they didn’t get 7.2 million as all those Millenials finally got around to signing up. The numbers will continue to be cooked for as long as necessary.

Happy Nomad on April 28, 2014 at 12:17 PM

*********** MISSION ACCOMPLISHED **************************!!

canopfor on April 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Your tax-dough is being wasted on tax-preparers, who advocate for obama’care’ sign-ups.

Make obama’car’ voluntary and see how many sign up.

From Angola to Zimbabwe there are NO mandates.

The USA is run by a thug, in thuggish fashion.

Enjoy the subugation, fools.

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Does Oregon get a refund of the 300 Million?…

PatriotRider on April 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM

subjugation

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:20 PM

The good doctor needs to win, if the rain hasn’t ruined all the brains in OR.

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Using the federal technology represents the lowest-risk option,” said Alex Pettit, the exchange’s top technology official. It is estimated that the switch will cost $5 million.

Ya can’t make this stuff up! Define “lowest-risk”. The blind leading the blind, or the stupid leading the stupid?

DimsdalePiranha on April 28, 2014 at 12:21 PM

I’d have achieeved exactly the same results for a mere $150 million…

JohnGalt23 on April 28, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Charles Gaba ‏@charles_gaba 24m

#ACASignups Pull the sheet over @CoverOregon; it’s done: http://acasignups.net/14/04/28/pull-sheet-over-cover-oregon-its-done … #ACA #Obamacare

https://twitter.com/charles_gaba

canopfor on April 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

And to think this is all because the 1960′s called and wanted their graphics back.

dissent555 on April 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

According to my calculations, that means each tax payer in Oregon just gave the State approximately $63.50 that they flushed down the toilet.

Awesome.

VinceOfDoom on April 28, 2014 at 12:25 PM

The website is still up: https://www.coveroregon.com/

Check out the FAQs. Comedy gold:

What is Cover Oregon?
Cover Oregon is a new online marketplace where Oregonians can find and purchase health insurance. If you are uninsured, buy insurance on your own or own a small business with 50 or fewer eligible employees, you’ll be able to find health insurance through Cover Oregon. Cover Oregon will let you search for and compare health insurance plans and will offer help—online, in person and over the phone—to find the plan that’s right for you. Some people will also get help paying for their plan.

Notice all the future tense in the above? You’ll be able to….will let you…etc

Is Cover Oregon associated with the Affordable Care Act? If so, how?
The Affordable Care Act requires each state to establish a health insurance exchange, which is an online marketplace where individuals and small employers can compare plans and access financial assistance to help pay for coverage. States can implement their own exchanges or they can opt for a federally facilitated exchange. In Oregon, we are developing our own exchange to meet the unique needs of each individual and the insurance market.

How many people does Cover Oregon employ?
Cover Oregon is growing quickly as we prepare for open enrollment this fall. As of August 1, 2013, we employ 90 people at our corporate headquarters office in Durham, and 57 additional staff at our customer service center in Salem. Also, we will be supplementing the customer service center with up to 100 temporary customer service representatives.

Now those who were previously employed will sign up on the Federal Exchange right?

How is Cover Oregon funded?
Cover Oregon operates at no cost to the state. It is funded by federal grant dollars through 2014; after that, it will be self-sustaining through an administrative fee charged to insurance carriers. Cover Oregon worked closely with national and state experts to develop enrollment and financial projections; these show Cover Oregon becoming financially self-sustaining by 2015.

airupthere on April 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM

According to my calculations, that means each tax payer in Oregon just gave the State approximately $63.50 that they flushed down the toilet.

Awesome.

VinceOfDoom on April 28, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Evidently the feds were on the hook for all the costs up until 2014, at least according to portions of their website that actually do work. So all Americans are on the hook for this huge waste.

airupthere on April 28, 2014 at 12:31 PM

While Obamacare is a disaster (a free market disaster, to be clear), the failure of the Oregon exchange as opposed to the federal one should serve as an object lesson in the superiority of a single, centrally planned, system, as opposed to the chaos of multiple entities pursuing their separate interests.

But as I said, the capitalist nature of the plan has doomed it to failure no matter what they do.

Obviously, any sensible government that was truly interested in universal healthcare would use a single payer, single provider system. And it is not an accident that Obama and the democrats did not pass such a plan – in fact, they went with a fundamentally pro-capitalist plan because the DNC is at its root, a thoroughly reactionary entity. The only reason they obtained no support from their republican collaborators is that the latter are adamant about a more naked form of reaction, with no pretense of supporting progress for the working class.

Trotsky on April 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM

I’m with erp. This is the beginning of the single payer portion of Obamacare. It was always meant to be single payer.

neyney on April 28, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Another obama’care’ death-blow

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:35 PM

NO, the only thing they have is the even blinder stupidity of the Rs. You must be clear in your thinking.

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Yeah, I know where you are coming from…but it’s a ploy not to secure the border and you are falling for it.

You are riled up about illegal immigration, and the problem is the border…the “illegal” problem will be obvious once we close the border.

But until we stop diluting the problem, we won’t resolve it…don’t fall for it, they are dodging the really important issue and using immigrants as a tool.

right2bright on April 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM

One more state that would lose federal subsidies if the court challenges are upheld?

CA Conservative on April 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Where is the money. I want someone in Oregon to ask where the money went and if the web portal does not work then I suggest someone should be in jail for fraud.

jaywemm on April 28, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Lots of luck with that. The Dems in Annapolis were asked that question after they dumped their technology in favor of CT’s. Millions wasted but since the black man who was in charge of the roll out is also the heir apparent to be the next governor…….

Well, wouldn’t you know, Dems looked into the situation and declared that nobody was to blame and certainly not Lt. Gov. Brown!!!

Happy Nomad on April 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM

as an object abject lesson in the superiority

Trotsky on April 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM

But until we stop diluting the problem, we won’t resolve it…don’t fall for it, they are dodging the really important issue and using immigrants as a tool.

right2bright on April 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM

You have fallen for the “border” bullchit. The border was not secured under GWB and has literally been open under obama/Napolitano and on.

The border will never again be secured. Period. It’s a moot point to even discuss. Both sides will never close it, ever. It’s just a ploy.

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Cannot wait to vote against Kitzhaber and Merkley. And, I would love to know where the money went!

Mollymaloo on April 28, 2014 at 12:41 PM

So….. when all was said and done, not one person was able to fly on their own wings.

Happy Nomad on April 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM

And to think this is all because the 1960′s called and wanted their graphics back.

dissent555 on April 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

But, those ads were so kewl, man. Like really groovy.

Not only was no one able to fly, they’re now all stuck on an evil coal-burning train to nowhere!

Forward!!!

ZeusGoose on April 28, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Hey! These are good people with only the best of intentions. Why should they be punished? What’s $300m between friends? Besides if we had only had $600m to spend it could have been perfect.

In the meantime, on to the Glorious Goal of Single Payer!

Hucklebuck on April 28, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Remember, there’s still the lawsuit challenging subsidies to people who bought their insurance through the federal exchange instead of state exchanges. If that lawsuit ends up going against Obama, the incompetence of Oregon’s implementation will have cost Oregonians more than just the $300 million, but the cost of the subsidies as well.

HakerA on April 28, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Well, wouldn’t you know, Dems looked into the situation and declared that nobody was to blame and certainly not Lt. Gov. Brown!!!

Totally wrong!

George Bush is to blame.

Hucklebuck on April 28, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Trotsky on April 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Welcome back, again!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY-R4K8e26g

Hucklebuck on April 28, 2014 at 12:55 PM

But, those ads were so kewl, man. Like really groovy.

ZeusGoose on April 28, 2014 at 12:47 PM

It’s hard to put a price on true art. Was the $3.2M campaign worth it as a performance piece? I men consider the lyrics-

“We fly with our own wings. Care about the same things.
We stand strong together. So let me hear you say.
We fly with our own wings. Dreamin’ all the big dreams.
Long live Oregonians; we’re free to be healthy. Long live Oregonians; we’re free to be healthy.”

That would win hands down at a cowboy poetry festival!

Happy Nomad on April 28, 2014 at 1:27 PM

George Bush is to blame.

Hucklebuck on April 28, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Well, of course, that’s a given. The proper response should be. Bush and who else?

Happy Nomad on April 28, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Wake up America

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Governor Blue Jeans needs to be thrown out of office. 300million? Anyone else would have been run out of town on a rail.

portlandon on April 28, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Wait, I thought Oregon had their own single-payer system? Why do they need a healthcare exchange?

GAbred on April 28, 2014 at 2:12 PM

So….. when all was said and done, not one person was able to fly on their own wings.
Happy Nomad on April 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM

*giggles whilst furiously nodding head*

EvilMonk on April 28, 2014 at 2:16 PM

NO, the only thing they have is the even blinder stupidity of the Rs. You must be clear in your thinking.

Schadenfreude on April 28, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Not stupid. In collusion.

crankyoldlady on April 28, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Hey everybody, so is the plan to ignore ignorant trolls until they go away?

While Obamacare is a disaster (a free market disaster, to be clear), the failure of the Oregon exchange as opposed to the federal one should serve as an object lesson in the superiority of a single, centrally planned, system, as opposed to the chaos of multiple entities pursuing their separate interests.

But as I said, the capitalist nature of the plan has doomed it to failure no matter what they do.

Obviously, any sensible government that was truly interested in universal healthcare would use a single payer, single provider system. And it is not an accident that Obama and the democrats did not pass such a plan – in fact, they went with a fundamentally pro-capitalist plan because the DNC is at its root, a thoroughly reactionary entity. The only reason they obtained no support from their republican collaborators is that the latter are adamant about a more naked form of reaction, with no pretense of supporting progress for the working class.

Trotsky on April 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Particular Set of Skills on April 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM

just remember that the web site is the EASY part …

YesWeKen on April 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM

My dad works on Oregon’s version of medicare and the website disaster has turned him from dem to Republican. We figured out that 25% of Oregon is receiving medicare; that doesn’t even count subsidies.
And yes Trotsky, we can only but dream of the day when we can have Cubacare…

Carolynp on April 28, 2014 at 2:43 PM

ha ha ha ha ha etc
excuse me, had to get it out. I used to program Oracle databases. Heard they hired the company to write the system. I think my state, Michigan, also hired the company to write a monster system some years back that didnt work. Dont know how that ended.

Of course, the federal Obamacare site was chasing a moving target of specs, which probably spilled into the Oregon specs. This type of programming, with that @#$ software, you dont flip it on a dime every time the specs change

Done laughing.

Since I believe they never wanted it to succeed at the Federal level, it is also possible they never wanted it to succeed at the State level. Now the State can claim they are being forced, forced to go federal. And later, IMHO, the DEMs intend to claim they are being forced, forced by the failed systems to merge into single payer because anything less just cannot succeed

Meanwhile, Amazon handles millions of transactions, allows user interaction, banking etc slick as a greased tadpole

They are playing the public. Jerking their chain with these percolated crises, to which they have so many solutions, already typed in triplicate

entagor on April 28, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Stupid is expensive!

cajunpatriot on April 28, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Particular Set of Skills on April 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Trotsky…he has a good name for a commie doesn’t he?

cajunpatriot on April 28, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Trotsky…he has a good name for a commie doesn’t he?

cajunpatriot on April 28, 2014 at 5:51 PM

We should line him up with JustTheFacts; they might ride off into the sunset and never be heard from again.

slickwillie2001 on April 28, 2014 at 7:09 PM

The hidden, secretive nature of ObamaCare

A Catastrophe Like No Other

__________________________________________

The Other Stealthy ObamaCare Menace

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

exists to impose price controls and limit payments to providers.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304279904579515690799077728

__________________________________________

Obamacare “unambiguously adds to federal deficits

in that it authorizes more additional spending

than it generates in additional tax revenues.”

http://www.economics21.org/commentary/unfolding-fiscal-disaster-behind-aca-enrollment-figures

__________________________________________

Global HAWK on April 29, 2014 at 8:27 AM

If it wasn’t for the low information voters in the city of Portland OR the state would probably elect both a republican Governor and Senator. If you have seen the the TV program Portlandia this is truly what keeps democrats running this state. Delusional, the world is beautiful,throw backs to the flower people of the 60″s,Voters. They just don’t care that the Governor is incompetent.

regmgr on April 29, 2014 at 10:04 AM

$300 million… Someone should be in prison for this. What a waste.

jmsvit on April 29, 2014 at 12:17 PM

$300 million… Someone should be in prison for this. What a waste.

jmsvit on April 29, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Maybe after 2016 if all the lies and coverups can be unraveled, and prosecutions commence.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama doesn’t give out a blanket pardon to all involved, on his last day in office Jan 2017. In a way that would be fitting, since the bottom line is that all this is his fault, and it’s a bit unfair to lay the blame on the poor schmucks who got stuck with trying to put a shine on this ball of turd.

s1im on April 29, 2014 at 1:06 PM

I am very curious as to why our President Barack Obama has not enrolled in Obamacare ? As everyone knows he has a PRIVATE insurance policy with Blue Cross and Blue Shield. It is known as the “Cadillac-Plan.” I think there would be a tremendous increase in enrollment in Obamacare if our President would give ALL American-citizen’s access to exactly the same medical-policy he is on. After all, everyone in America should have free and open access to the same privileges and fringe-benefits that our politician’s have, shouldn’t they ? Remember, they do work for us……?

Bugdust172 on April 29, 2014 at 5:01 PM