Oregon Obamacare exchange keeps delaying five-month late website

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Five months, hundreds of millions of dollars and two top exchange officials later, Oregon’s Obamacare exchange was scheduled to finally launch a partial version of its website last week — and then delayed it again.

Despite $340 million in federal funding and another $160 million from state taxpayers, Cover Oregon’s site was unable to enroll any customers online on day one in October and officials quickly gave up on having online enrollment ready anytime soon.

The partial launch would make enrollment available only for insurance agents and brokers certified by Cover Oregon.

So far, Oregon’s implosion is unparalleled even by Obamacare standards. The exchange’s failure led to the resignation of director Rocky King (for “medical reasons”) and of top tech official Carolyn Lawson (for “personal reasons”).

State legislators are holding hearings 0n the failures; one state lawmaker has called for an FBI investigation into how state officials got the broken website past federal check-ups from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and U.S. congressmen have called for the General Accountability Office (GAO) to look into the exchange’s operations as well. (RELATED: Lawmakers push probes of two state Obamacare exchanges)

Things appeared to be looking up for the exchange when reports first emerged that a partial beta version of the website would launch last week for agents and navigators certified by Cover Oregon. Officials promised that the password-protected “partner portal” would be ready by the end of last week.

On Saturday, the exchange emailed its participants an update that the site would be ready “over this weekend or early next week.” Then on Monday a Cover Oregon spokesman finally confirmed the limited version of the website would launch Tuesday.

The federal President’s Day holiday on Monday made it difficult for exchange officials to work with the federal government’s interface, Oregon Live reports.

Despite the efforts to get a partial launch ready in time, the exchange website has at least 1,200 glitches, which officials hope to fix by the end of next month, when exchange enrollment officially closes. “Blocker” bugs, named for being so serious as to prevent another launch altogether, were numbered at 157 in November.

The number of blockers has fluctuated as new bugs in the system are discovered each time officials make some progress. Last week, the number of the most serious glitches had dropped to just eight from 47 blockers several weeks ago, but another 42 new errors had been pegged as potential blockers as well.

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Tags : obamacare
Sarah Hurtubise