Oregon's Obamacare Site: No Enrollees After $305 Million From Taxpayers

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 06:37 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Despite receiving more than $305 million in federal funds and an aggressive advertising campaign, the Oregon Obamacare exchange has no enrollments, with the program's top officer telling lawmakers he does not think the website will ever work.

Rocky King, executive director of the Cover Oregon program, said he has told residents to file paper applications, the Portland Business Journal reports.

Story continues below video.



"I no longer use the word 'hope' that something is going to work," King told the Oregon Legislature on Wednesday. "I am planning to do a full manual system from here through March 31.

"If the IT comes up, that’s icing on the cake, but I’m not depending on that," he said.

Since 2010, the Oregon Obamacare program received seven grants totaling $305.2 million from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

The grants include $226.4 million awarded in January and $48 million in February 2011.

The program's advertising campaign featured $3.2 million spent on commercials, including one touting a psychedelic sun and a farmer aloft on a carrot.

The problems affecting Oregon's site reflects those of the main Obamacare site, HealthCare.gov, since the healthcare law's individual mandate took effect on Oct. 1.

The site continues to be plagued by technology and accessibility problems —  HealthCare.gov crashed in front of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius when she visited a Miami hospital on Wednesday.

In Oregon, King told legislators that the website's contractor, the software maker Oracle, hoped to have the site working for the general public by Dec. 15, the Business Journal reports.

King added, however, that he was not taking that for granted.

In addition, Cover Oregon is about $1.7 million over budget, the Business Journal reports. The program plans to withhold 5 percent of Oracle's payment, King said.

"Right now, it is our intent not to pay that," he told legislators. "With that, we are even."

Even though the site has no enrollees, Cover Oregon has received 24,486 applications and has made 1,371 eligibility determinations, King said.

King added that his goal was to have 20,000 enrollees by Jan. 2 and 114,000 by the end of next year, the Business Journal reports.


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