The reaction to Friday's decision to stop trying to fix the Cover Oregon Website and move to the federal system brought swift reaction, including plans for a legislative hearing and a Central Oregon Republican's claim of an "embarrassing ... lack of leadership."
Here are the full, unedited releases:
Legislative Committee Will Examine Cover Oregon Move to Federal Website
Joint IT & Audits Committee will Get Answers on Recent Technology Decisions
SALEM- Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem/Gervais/Woodburn) and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) today announced that the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Legislative Audits, Information Management and Technology will hold a hearing to examine Cover Oregon’s decision to stop trying to fix its own website and instead connect to the federal technology.
The committee will meet 10 a.m. -12 p.m. May 6 to review Cover Oregon’s decision, get answers on the process for making the transition, and ensure that Oregon will be ready for the next open enrollment period in the fall.
The Cover Oregon website is still not fully functioning six months after its originally planned roll-out date. As a result, Oregonians seeking private health insurance through Cover Oregon have had to use a hybrid system that includes completing a paper application.
“This committee is best positioned to get the answers Oregonians deserve and push Cover Oregon to be prepared for upcoming milestones," said Kotek. "Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians now have access to quality medical care thanks to Cover Oregon and the Affordable Care Act. We need to make sure Oregonians continue to have access to the health care they need.”
“I want to make it clear that we expect more than a PowerPoint presentation. We expect more than promises,” Courtney said. “We want frank answers. We want to know the technology challenges Cover Oregon is facing and exactly how they plan to navigate through the minefield. We need to know how this move is going to get us out of this mess.”
Despite the website woes, more than 70,000 Oregonians have signed up for private insurance through Cover Oregon and another 172,000 people have signed up through the exchange for the Oregon Health Plan as part of the expansion of Medicaid. An additional 130,000 people were added to the Oregon Health Plan rolls through a separate process outside of the exchange.
House Republican Office Responds to Cover Oregon Board Vote
Salem, OR - House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) issued the following statement regarding today's vote by the Cover Oregon Board to move to the federal exchange:
"Today's decision by Cover Oregon to move to the federal health exchange after months of false assurances is an incredibly embarrassing moment for the state of Oregon. This failure is the result of a complete lack of leadership.
"Early warning signs were ignored or sidestepped, as were legislative attempts to ask questions and find solutions. Moreover, this incompetence has left far too many Oregon families in limbo as they now face yet another hurdle while trying to enroll for coverage. Oregonians were sold false promises, and all we got was a faulty, unfinished product that has thus far wasted $250 million.
"The attempts of Democratic leadership and their hand-picked Cover Oregon appointees to conceal the mismanagement, blunders and wasteful costs associated with Cover Oregon are inexcusable. This breach of trust with the people of Oregon is unacceptable and serves as further proof that our state needs competent, accountable leadership to get Oregon back on track."
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., issued the following statement Thursday, after a panel proposed the move from Cover Oregon made formal Friday:
“Cover Oregon is the digital equivalent of the 1962 Columbus Day storm. It is the worst financial failure in information technology in state history — and it was completely avoidable. Today’s admission of failure underscores the need to stop the waste and get the truth. How did this happen? Who was in charge? That’s why I’ve sought and secured a federal investigation into Cover Oregon. Taxpayers deserve answers and demand accountability.”
On Friday, after the decision, he added:
"Once again, Obamacare causes chaos and confusion for Oregonians. Today, the same board that oversaw the colossal waste at Cover Oregon voted to throw in the towel, and taxpayers are left stuck with the bill. The board should explain further to the taxpayers of Oregon and the nation how exactly this massive failure happened.”
An aide to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Friday that Wyden "is as angry as every Oregonian is about Cover Oregon. The goal remains the same to provide quality coverage for Oregonians, at the end of the day it's the state's responsibility to get this right."