April 25 2014
Oregon Gives ObamaCare Exchange the Boot
Patrice J. Lee
Oregon was an important state for the Administration’s ObamaCare enrollment effort. They put significant resources into signing up (young) people there. But for all of the efforts and taxpayer funds, the state’s exchange Cover Oregon never took off and will be abandoned.
Oregon fully embraced ObamaCare and set resources behind expensive ad buys. Do you remember the nutty 30-second acid-trip-style ad to tout its new healthcare exchange?
Now Oregon is set to become the first state to drop its exchange and transition to the federal exchange. The state struggled with a broken website and failed to get many Oregonians to enroll. After spending about $130 million Cover Oregon had placed fewer than 64,000 residents in private health plans since open enrollment, and most had to submit applications on paper. In fact, through most of November, reportedly not one person had been signed up.
When it became obvious late last year that Covered Oregon was on track to crash and burn, finger pointing began. However, the Government Accountability Office is now investigating the exchange and $300 million in federal funds that the U.S. government authorized for the project.
The Hill reports:
About $130 million has been spent on Cover Oregon, but it is the only ObamaCare enrollment system that won't let registrants buy coverage and qualify for tax credits in one sitting.
It had not enrolled a single person online as of early March, and remains mired in glitches almost seven months after a rocky launch.
The Obama administration has urged Oregon and other states with dysfunctional exchanges to integrate them with HealthCare.gov.
If federal health officials agree to the terms, Oregon will join the 34 states that currently plan to rely on HealthCare.gov as their primary ObamaCare enrollment portal next year. The next sign-up period begins in November.
Fixing the site would cost $78 million compared with $4 to 6 million to house the system within HealthCare.gov, the slides said.
The decision is a significant shift for an exchange that was expected to run well.
Oregon is mostly run by Democratic supporters of the healthcare law and known for its innovations in healthcare policy, signs that initially boded well for its ObamaCare enrollment system.
But the website has become an embarrassment for the state, and improving it before the next enrollment period would have been challenging and expensive.
We will refrain from saying that we could have predicted this. It does nothing to address the problems that this failed experiment demonstrate. Oregon was woefully unprepared for the heavy lift of executing this exchange, but it’s indicative of what often happens with ambitious, expansive government programs that end up enslaving Americans to a new entitlement.
What’s to be done with the substantial taxpayer dollars used? It’s evaporated into thin air like the hopes of the Administration for it. Apparently, Republican members think they can recoup some of the federal grant money given to Oregon contractors. Good luck!
The failure of Cover Oregon signals that ObamaCare still remains unpopular and throwing significant resources at getting people to sign up is not enough to dispel the problems with it. ObamaCare costs more than predicted, covers fewer Americans than expected, and has pushed harmful impacts on our labor market, hoisted new taxes and fees on American businesses of all sizes, slowed growth in some industries, causes millions of Americans to be uninsured, and will lead to the loss of millions of American jobs.
Why did we need ObamaCare again?