Mom wonders, ‘Do my kids have insurance?’

Doctor's stethoscope (File, Feb. 24, 2009 AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)
Doctor's stethoscope (File, Feb. 24, 2009 AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)

MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — In September, a Milwaukie mother enrolled her kids in the Oregon Health Plan. She then got a letter telling her the kids coverage was ending because they had not received the enrollment forms.

But the woman — who asked not to be identified — said state workers told her not to worry. The sheer number of people signing up with handwritten forms through Cover Oregon created a two-month backlog of paperwork.

On Friday, this mother is taking her kids to the doctor’s office — and she’s unsure if she has insurance.

“I called last week to make an appointment for my kids to go to the dentist and they said, ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have any record of you having coverage,'” the woman told KOIN 6 News.

Much of the backup has been brought about by the failure of the Cover Oregon website. The 90,000 Oregonians who’ve been enrolled in Cover Oregon have signed up by using a 17-page handwritten application.

That’s not nearly as fast or efficient as Governor John Kitzhaber had hoped.

In Salem on Thursday, the governor told KOIN 6 News the buck stops with him.

“These problems and these issues happened on my watch and ultimately I am accountable for them, period,” Kitzhaber said.

He said his office was told repeatedly in the months before the scheduled October rollout that the website problems were being fixed. He’s ordered an outside review of what went wrong.

“There were problems with communication, there were bad decisions. I think there were probably administrative and management decisions involved,” he said. “I want to find out what those are. I’m accountable for it. It happened on my watch.”

An independent external review has been started to determined what happened and why

Some components of the system were working but they weren’t interacting with one another. The hybrid process is working now. It isn’t elegant but it is working and getting better every day.

The Milwaukie mom said she got a call Thursday night from a DHS worker who told her they’d found some paperwork that would be sent to Salem for processing.

That’s good, but she’s not absolutely sure if her kids visit to the doctor on Friday will be covered.

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