Cover Oregon poised to join federal exchange

With encouragement from the Obama administration, an Oregon panel recommended Thursday that the state pull the plug on its glitch-ridden website and switch to the federal insurance marketplace. The final decision is expected to be made Friday by its exchange board. Oregon built what is widely regarded as the worst-functioning state exchange in the nation. 

The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Poised To Switch To Federal Insurance Exchange
Oregon should pull the plug on the beleaguered Cover Oregon health insurance exchange and switch to the federal exchange, a technological advisory committee recommended Thursday. The move is considered almost certain to be adopted by the Cover Oregon board, which meets Friday. Changing to the federal exchange would cost about $5 million, while a partial fix to the Oregon exchange would cost more than $78 million based on an estimate from Deloitte, a Cover Oregon consultant (Budnick, 4/24).

The New York Times: Oregon Panel Recommends Switch To Federal Health Exchange
With encouragement from the Obama administration, an Oregon panel recommended Thursday that the state scrap the website for its beleaguered health insurance exchange and use the federal marketplace instead. State officials concluded that it would be much less expensive to use the federal site,, than to repair the one built specially for the state, Cover Oregon. The first option would cost $4 million to $6 million, while the second would cost $78 million, state officials said (Pear and Johnson, 4/24).

Los Angeles Times: Oregon Leaders To Vote On Scrapping Health Insurance Exchange
Oregon officials will vote Friday on whether to become the first state to scrap its troubled insurance exchange and switch to the federal system, after spending an estimated $248 million on an ambitious exchange that failed in spectacular fashion. Not a single insurance seeker was able to enroll online in a private plan under the Affordable Care Act in this high-tech state, which has long prided itself on healthcare innovation and whose governor is a former emergency room doctor. Cover Oregon instead was forced to resort to paper applications (La Ganga and Reston, 4/24).

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Prepares To Take Over Oregon's Broken Health Insurance Exchange
The collapse of Oregon's insurance marketplace comes as federal health officials are focusing intensely on faltering exchanges in two other states, Maryland and Massachusetts. This month, the board of the Maryland Health Connection became the first in the nation to decide to replace most of its exchange with different technology. But Maryland did not obtain required federal approval before its vote. Federal officials remain uncertain whether the state exchange has the capacity to correct its problems and have not indicated whether they will give Maryland the $40 million to $50 million it says it needs to make the switch. Massachusetts was in the vanguard of insurance exchanges, opening its own years before the 2010 federal health-care law. But the commonwealth's insurance marketplace developed severe technical problems as it tried to make adjustments to interact with the federal system (Goldstein, 4/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Oregon May Give Up on Its Troubled Health-Insurance Exchange Site
The staff of Oregon's troubled health-insurance exchange on Thursday recommended the state switch to the federal government's system for next year's open enrollment. Alex Pettit, acting chief information officer for Cover Oregon, recommended using the U.S. government's technology at a meeting Thursday. The recommendation, which is backed by Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, is set to be discussed Friday at Cover Oregon's board of directors meeting (Corbett Dooren, 4/24).

USA Today: Oregon May Dump Health Exchange For
The move comes after an advisory board recommended that the site, often called the worst in the nation, be dropped. Oregonians have signed up for health insurance through a mix of paper applications and the website, a tedious, slow process necessitated by the website's glitches. The state has spent at least $134 million on the site, plus an additional $7 million to process the paper applications because the contractor, Oracle Corp., was never able to fix the website. Federal officials immediately said they would work with states that choose to use the federal site, rather than malfunctioning state sites (Kennedy, 4/24).

Politico: State Health Exchange Still Broken, Oregon Looks To Join Feds
Oregon state officials are ready to hand off their disastrous Obamacare website to the federal government -- a concession backed by the governor that the state won't be able to operate the website on its own any time soon. Oregon is the first state to give up technological control of its Obamacare website and join the federal exchange, an irony considering how busted was six months ago (Haberkorn, 4/24).

The Associated Press: Cover Oregon Board To Decide Exchange's Future
Cover Oregon's board will decide Friday whether to approve an advisory committee's recommendation to ditch its troubled portal. Under that option, Oregon would use for private policies but continue using its current system for Medicaid enrollments (4/25).

The Hill: Oregon Poised To Abondon Its Failed Obamacare Exchange
Oregon is set to become the first state to drop its Obamacare exchange and transition into the system managed by the federal government. The decision follows months of severe technical issues that have made Oregon's marketplace one of the worst in the country (Viebeck, 4/24).

Reuters : Oregon's Broken Healthcare Exchange May Move To Federal Network
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 health care exchange. Oregon, a state that fully embraced the Affordable Care Act, has endured one of the rockiest rollouts of President Barack Obama's signature health care law, requiring tens of thousands of applicants to apply on paper since launching on October 1 (Sebens, 4/25).

NBC News: Feds To Take Over Oregon's Broken Health Exchange
The federal government is ready to take over Oregon's broken health insurance exchange, which had failed far more spectacularly than ever did. A panel of experts advised state officials to turn the system over to the federal government, as 36 other states did this year. The full board of the state's exchange, called Cover Oregon, was scheduled to decide on Friday. But the Washington Post reported on Thursday that federal and state officials had already agreed that the best approach would be to close the Oregon exchange and let state residents use the federal one for next year (Fox, 4/24).

Meanwhile, in Colorado --

The Denver Post:  Colorado Health Exchanges Considers Adding Life Insurance To Products
The state health exchange is considering adding new products to its line, such as life insurance, to generate more cash, Connect for Health Colorado executive director Patty Fontneau told lawmakers at a review committee hearing Thursday. "As our small group (insurance) becomes more robust, often businesses purchase their group life when they purchase their group health," Fontneau said. "We could consider it and bring it to the board" (Draper, 4/24).

Health News Colorado: Lawmakers Defend Brokers, Don't Want Exchange Selling Life, Car Insurance
Lawmakers today defended insurance brokers and don't want Connect for Health Colorado to start selling other forms of insurance. Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, grilled exchange CEO Patty Fontneau during a legislative oversight committee hearing today about whether she would consider selling other products from car insurance to life insurance. So far the exchange sells health and dental insurance and the board recently voted to add vision insurance. Exchange board members have been reluctant to divert from Connect for Health's mission to sell health insurance, but Fontneau opened the door Thursday to life insurance (McCrimmon, 4/24).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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