“I think just about everybody in Oregon is surprised and frustrated with where we are right now,” said Jesse O’Brien, a health care advocate for the Portland-based consumer advocacy group OSPIRG. “With Oregon having a reputation as a state that supports health reform and with a governor that is very enthusiastic, I think everyone was expecting we’d be in a much different position.”
“It is such an epic failure, literally it’s mind-boggling,” said state Rep. Jason Conger, a Republican from central Oregon who’s running for Sen. Jeff Merkley’s seat next year.
The state has been throwing significant resources into its backup plan, assigning hundreds of workers to deal with the paper applications, yet making little headway. Nearly 30,000 individuals and families have applied via paper, but the state hasn’t been able to finish processing even one submission. And simply trying to turn in the application itself has some people exasperated.
“Everybody’s grousing, including me, because I can’t get the damn fax machine to answer,” said state Rep. Brian Clem. The Democrat has been unsuccessfully trying to enroll his mother-in-law, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease.