Oregon joins list of states with failed Obamacare exchanges

Oregon joins list of states with failed Obamacare exchanges

With the recent announcement that Maryland had sunk a cool $90 million in taxpayer dollars down the tubes with a failed Obamacare exchange, some of that story covered here, it now appears Oregon doesn’t want to be outdone. The state exchange, officially called Cover Oregon, will be ceasing operations in coming days leaving only the ability for the uninsured to enroll in Medicaid using the state’s hobbled website. Apparently, Cover Oregon was being held up as the crown jewel of Obamacare state exchanges, so the failure of officials to deliver is another major blow to the ironically-named Affordable Care Act.

A top Cover Oregon official, Alex Pettit, said fixing the existing system would be too costly at an estimated $78 million, would take too long to implement, and would be too risky. The state’s site still isn’t fully functional seven months after a failed launch.


An advisory committee made the recommendation to drop the glitch-filled site for private policies, but suggested that Oregon continue using its current technology for Medicaid enrollments.

Having already spent $134 million on the exchange website, officials would need an additional $78 million to fix the problems? Count me aghast at the level of incompetence on display from state after state as they so eagerly dive into federal funds only to see them irretrievably wasted down the rat hole.

On the bright side, there has been some marginal accountability, though I use that term loosely:

An independent investigation ordered by Gov. John Kitzhaber found state managers repeatedly failed to heed reports about technical problems that prevented the exchange from launching. It also found Oracle did a shoddy job in building the exchange. Five Oregon officials connected to the development of the Cover Oregon portal have resigned.

Resignations won’t return millions in lost taxpayer dollars for what now amounts to a Medicaid enrollment portal. In fact, the irony here is that taxpayers flipped the bill for a website which will help people sign up for a program that requires tax payers to continue flipping the bill. Hooray for taxpayers!

Oregon has decided, after wasting hundreds of millions of dollars, that joining the federal Obamacare exchange website seems like the way to go. Ironically, the federal exchange is more functional than what the Oregon exchange was so the bar has been substantially lowered for usability.

Back on the other coast, in Maryland, an investigation found that essentially, no single person was accountable and no single official was really in charge. That makes it convenient for the buck to stop exactly nowhere. In fact, the buck is still being passed around in Maryland given the current gubernatorial election cycle. Where it lands will be up to voters in November.



Nate is founder of the blog YouDecidePolitics.com. He is a software developer by day.


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