Report: Oregon is about to give up on its ObamaCare exchange

The increasingly obvious conclusion to the long odyssey of CoverOregon, which began in a dreamy, technicolor haze of unbounded ObamaCare enthusiasm and now sounds like it’s ending with a big, fat thud. Oregon’s nonfunctional exchange remains the only one not to have signed up a single enrollee through its online system, forcing the state to redirect all of its applicants to sign up via snail mail and telephone, and it’s been dogged by reports and allegations of waste, fraud, and utter incompetence as officials have been trying to figure out exactly how they managed to crash and burn so dramatically with a budget of $300 million for the entire endeavor. The federal government got officially involved back in March, and it sounds like the feds are ready to take to project out of Oregon’s hands, via WaPo:

The Obama administration is poised to take over Oregon’s broken insurance exchange, according to officials familiar with the decision, who say that it reflects federal officials’ conclusion that several state-run marketplaces may be too dysfunctional to fix.

In public, the board overseeing Cover Oregon is scheduled to vote Friday whether to join the federal insurance marketplace that already sells health plans in most of the country under the Affordable Care Act. Behind the scenes, the officials say, federal and Oregon officials already have privately agreed that closing down the system is the best path to rescue the state marketplace, the country’s only one to fail so spectacularly that no residents have been able to sign up for coverage online since it opened early last fall. …

A consultant’s analysis for Cover Oregon recently concluded that it would cost $4 million to $6 million to move into the federal insurance marketplace, a fraction of the expense of refurbishing the exchange’s existing technology.

According to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about discussions that have not been made public, leaders of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency overseeing the insurance marketplaces, have firmly told Oregon officials that they did not believe they had the ability to repair the exchange themselves.

The federal government might be looking to absorb Maryland and Massachusetts’ messy exchanges into the national system too, but for Oregon, as WaPo notes, “one important unresolved question is whether people who have just chosen health plans through Cover Oregon will need to sign up a second time in the federal system for their new coverage to continue beyond this year” — and if that does end up being the case, might we see some frustrated Oregonians taking a second look at GOP Senate candidate Dr. Monica Webhy, perhaps? Eh?