Oregon’s Obamacare exchange STILL in shambles
While the White House was hailing the latest Obamacare enrollment figures, Oregon’s exchange failed to sign up a single person online — making Cover Oregon Obamacare’s most disastrous state-based health exchange.
The exchange’s current IT director is now the fourth top official at Cover Oregon to resign from the embattled health insurance marketplace, following the former CIO Carolyn Lawson, who oversaw the site’s construction, and the organization’s two consecutive directors.
Aaron Karjala, the chief information technology manager for the insurance exchange, resigned Monday after Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber urged the exchange’s board to remove her and former director Bruce Goldberg, who resigned earlier this month.
Karjala was the top tech official of the site, but was not in charge of building the exchange — that was managed by Lawson, who was the first official to be discharged in December. Karjala, along with the exchange’s original director Rocky King, who also resigned in December, chose to keep trying to fix the site rather than start over when the extent of the problems became clear in May 2013.
Cover Oregon’s turnover rate beats that of other state exchanges that continue to struggle — Maryland, often compared to Oregon for their early, enthusiastic adoption of Obamacare and failure to create functioning websites, decided last week to call its $125 million online exchange a sunk cost and start over.
Oregon’s exchange shifted its resources to paper applications and managed to sign up just over 55,000 Oregonians for private health coverage so far. The state also received an exemption from the Obama administration to keep enrollment open for another 30 days. (RELATED: The definitive roundup of Obamacare’s worst delays)
Even with its relatively high enrollment, the exchange’s failure to create a working website exemplifies the many failures of the health care law’s roll-out.
Despite the tech problems, Oregon’s exchange held strong with its high-rolling advertising campaign, featuring folk songs and craft-filled commercials lauding health coverage for the bargain price of $8.3 million. The ads were pulled almost halfway into the enrollment period.
It’s unclear whether Oregon will be able to launch individual online enrollment campaign before the end of its delayed enrollment period, April 30.
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