Feds to Take Over Oregon's Broken Health Exchange

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The federal government is ready to take over Oregon’s broken health insurance exchange, which had failed far more spectacularly than HealthCare.gov 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.

Cover Oregon’s Alex Pettit said it would cost $78 million to fix Oregon’s exchange while it would cost just $4 million to $6 million to switch to HealthCare.gov.

HealthCare.gov got off to a rocky start, and didn’t work for the first two months of open enrollment. But federal officials brought in a team of outside experts and got it up and running by December, and now President Barack Obama says 8 million people have signed up for private health insurance using the site.

Outside estimates agree.

Oracle Corp. built Oregon’s system, which has never worked properly. Instead, people in Oregon wanting to buy insurance on the site have to go through a cumbersome process using paper forms and helpers who enter the data online. Several top officials have resigned after an independent investigation ordered by Gov. John Kitzhaber.