Cover Oregon 2.0? The state mulls another exchange

Oregon is once again looking to start its own health insurance exchange

Cover Oregon is a federally funded online health insurance marketplace, Sept. 20, 2013. (Cover Oregon photo)
Cover Oregon is a federally funded online health insurance marketplace, Sept. 20, 2013. (Cover Oregon photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The state of Oregon says it’s looking into running its own health care exchange again, two years after the failure of Cover Oregon.

The state is considering this because the federal government is raising the fees it charges states to use healthcare.gov.

Jake Sunderland speaks with KOIN about a new state run healthcare exchange, Dec. 15, 2015 (KOIN
Jake Sunderland speaks with KOIN about a new state run healthcare exchange, Dec. 15, 2015 (KOIN)

This has a lot of people wondering how the state plans to guard against another failure that cost the state $300 million.

“It’s not gonna be like that at all. First of all, no decision has been made,” says Jake Sunderland, spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

Sunderland says the state is exploring ways to replace the federal website with less expensive, existing technology.

“We understand that healthcare.gov works great for Oregonians. It’s all a matter of making sure we know what the prices are so that we can make the best decision and spend that government money most appropriately.”

Keeping healthcare.gov will cost the state $13 million a year. That is why is why Sunderland’s agency is soliciting bids from vendors that already operate health insurance exchange websites in other states.

“We’re not gonna be developing any new code, we’re not gonna hire someone to build a system from scratch. What we’re looking for is a system that’s ready to go, off the shelf, that has a proven track record of success in another state,” Sunderland says.

Fate of Cover Oregon discussed April 25, 2014 amid months of problems and inaccessibility. (CBS News)
Fate of Cover Oregon discussed April 25, 2014 amid months of problems and inaccessibility. (CBS News)

Software giant Oracle was hired to build Cover Oregon from the ground-up and the website was plagued with problems from the beginning.

The state will analyze outside bids and then make a recommendation to lawmakers in time for February’s session.

“The decision is gonna come down to what makes the most sense and we’re gonna take into consideration cost, functionality, features available as well as the confusion it would cost to consumers if we were to switch.”

Sunderland calls this due diligence, but there is a chance none of this will happen and the state will stick with the federal system.

Nevada, New Mexico and Hawaii also face the federal fee.

Comments are closed.