Oregon's Obamacare Exchange To Be Scrapped In Favor of Federal System

In a development that would have been unthinkable six months ago, Oregon is set to join HealthCare.gov and completely abandon its own state-run Obamacare exchanges, as the federally-managed system is running smoother than Oregon’s program ever will. A state advisory board concluded on Thursday that Cover Oregon, which has been so horribly managed that it’s failed to enroll a single person as of early March, would cost $78 million to fix. Simply scrapping it and directing Oregonians to the federal exchanges, on the other hand, would only cost $4-6 million, and that’s what officials are leaning towards doing.

It’s one of the great ironies in the history of Obamacare. As a state with a governor and legislature who largely support the law and want it to work, Oregon seemed like a natural candidate for a smoothly-running state exchange.

But Cover Oregon has been anything but smoothly-running. Seven months after its launch, the website still riddled with glitches, it’s the only state-run exchange that won’t let enrollees buy health insurance and qualify for tax credits in the same sitting, and enrollees can’t buy insurance online — they have to use a paper form. The state has spent $130 trying to fix it without any success; state officials have blamed Oracle, the website’s contractor, on the problems.

HealthCare.gov, on the other hand, got off to such a bad start that some suspected its botched rollout would take down the entirety of Affordable Care Act (and, in the process, doom liberal economic policy for decades to come). But the problems with the website were quickly fixed, the exchange surpassed its target enrollment before the administration’s deadline, and it’s now reliable enough to serve as a refuge for Oregonians let down by their state’s system.

On Thursday, the state’s chief information officer advised dumping the state-run exchange, and an advisory panel will hold a vote Friday. According to The Oregonian, members of the panel seemed inclined to support the switch.