| PORTLAND, April 24
PORTLAND, April 24 Top officials for Oregon's
troubled health insurance network, dogged by technical glitches
that have kept a single subscriber from enrolling online,
recommended on Thursday dumping the state website in favor of a
federally run healthcare exchange.
Oregon, a state that fully embraced the Affordable Care Act,
has endured one of the rockiest rollouts of President Barack
Obama's signature healthcare law, requiring tens of thousands of
applicants to apply on paper since launching on Oct. 1.
Managers of the state exchange, called Cover Oregon, have
determined it would cost about $78 million to fix and continue
under the beleaguered system, well above the projected cost of
switching over to the federal exchange, spokesman Alex Pettit
Under the latest proposal, the private insurance plans now
offered through Cover Oregon would be moved to the federal
website, while individuals seeking coverage under an expansion
of Medicaid, a state-federal healthcare plan for the needy,
would apply through the Oregon Health Authority, spokeswoman
Ariane Holm said.
The recommendation came during a meeting of the Cover Oregon
working group put together last month in a bid to sort through
the issues plaguing the state exchange.
Several Cover Oregon officials, including two past directors
of the program, have resigned in recent months amid an
independent investigation that found mismanagement of the system
and a failure to report problems from the beginning.
Oregon is not alone. Officials in Maryland and Massachusetts
also considered shifting their state-run exchanges to the
federal network after experiencing technical problems.
Maryland ultimately kept its exchange intact using special
technology developed by Connecticut to manage the system, at a
cost of about $45 million, Pettit said.
In addition to Oregon, the federal government already is
running exchanges for 36 states that initially declined to
establish their own networks, though at least two of those - New
Mexico and Idaho - have said they plan to launch their own next
The Cover Oregon Board of Directors is expected to decide on
Friday whether to approve the recommended transfer.
Cover Oregon has already paid $134 million to Oracle Corp.
for development of the non-functioning website, and the
state has received roughly $300 million in federal grants for
Members of Oregon's congressional delegation have called for
a further investigation of the failed state exchange.
(Reporting by Shelby Sebens; Editing by Steve Gorman and Jan