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Oregon Obamacare exchange gets month-long enrollment delay

Oregon has received the Obama administration’s approval for a 30-day extension of its Obamacare exchange’s open enrollment period, officials announced Wednesday.

State officials had requested the federal government’s approval for the extension, which has come the day after news broke that the Obama administration will be extending its own deadline for exchange enrollment for anyone who claims they began their application prior to March 31.

Oregon’s exchange, however, qualifies for an even wider extension because its marketplace has experienced possible the worst technological problems of any state. With five days left before open enrollment was supposed to close, Oregon still has no website available for individuals to enroll in health insurance online.

Oregon is joining Nevada, which will allow customers who attempted to sign up another 60 days to enroll, and Maryland, which is allowing any customer who calls a state hotline before March 31 with problems to enroll after the deadline as well. (RELATED: Another state extends Obamacare enrollment deadline)

The state’s embattled exchange crashed in October and officials are still unable to get it back up and running. Officials shifted the marketplace’s focus to paper applications in November and have since been able to sign up 52,000 for private health plans, but online enrollment still isn’t possible.

A recent private investigation into how Oregon’s exchange was so severely mismanaged discovered massive internal conflict which prevented the exchange from being effectively built, including “ineffective” and “at times contentious” communications between agencies.

So far, the top tech official in charge of creating the website and two successive directors of the exchange have all been forced to resign. The website’s primary contractor, Oracle, has not yet been fired, but Cover Oregon is withholding $25.6 million of contract and has reserved the right to sue the company over payments already issued.

After requests from federal Oregon lawmakers, the General Accountability Office will audit Cover Oregon’s website operations. The exchange spent over $300 million on the website and received several early innovator grants as one of Obamacare’s first supporters.

It’s not yet clear whether Oregon’s website will be able to host online enrollment by the end of its extended enrollment period.

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