Cover Oregon website fiasco creates jobs, but costs millions

By   /   November 8, 2013  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 66 of 97 in the series Obamacare

By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog

OBAMACARE CHAOS: State workers scramble to get Oregonians enrolled in health insurance.

OBAMACARE CHAOS: State workers scramble to get Oregonians enrolled in health insurance.

As Oregon’s health care exchange website continues to malfunction, the state scrambles to get people enrolled in health insurance under Obamacare.

The website for Cover Oregon still hasn’t enrolled a single person for health insurance under Obamacare.

The state is now hiring 120 new workers at a cost of $1.1 million through Dec. 15 to help process paper applications and get people enrolled by January, according to figures provided to Northwest Watchdog from the Oregon Health Authority and Cover Oregon.

As of Friday, 81 people had been hired and were expected to start processing applications.

OHA is also moving 15 people from customer service to help out. Patty Wentz, OHA communications director, said the money for hiring temporary employees is coming from existing funds that were budgeted for Affordable Care Act implementation. Most of the cost is for staffing as the state will repurpose computers and other needed equipment.

Northwest Watchdog has asked what that money was originally supposed to be used for before the website failed to work properly. We’ll update when we hear back.

Cover Oregon, additionally, is on track to hire 290 workers by December at a cost of $2.7 million.

What does it mean when Oregon, the poster child for the implementation of Obamacare, falters?

If you ask the governor, president or anyone supporting the new health care law, it’s no big deal. They are working to fix the problem and ensure those who need health insurance get it.

“As Cover Oregon works to get online enrollment up and running, we are adding new sign-up options and more resources so that Oregonians get the insurance they want and need,” Gov. John Kitzhaber said in a press release. “Together with the insurance agents and community partners who are really stepping up, we are going to do whatever it takes to get this done for Oregonians.”

Ben Domenech, senior policy analyst of The Heartland Institute

Ben Domenech, senior policy analyst of The Heartland Institute

But to critics who claim they saw this coming, it’s just another sign the system is flawed.

The issues plaguing Cover Oregon come despite hundreds of millions of federal dollars poured into the state, an early start toward this new health care law, a months long ad campaign and nothing but positivity from the powers that be.

“It’s just another indication that this model as a whole is a problem,” Ben Domenech, senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, told Northwest Watchdog. “No state has done more to try and be ahead of the curve on this type of approach to reworking our health care markets than Oregon. It is a reflection that this approach was always from the beginning an ill thought out and ill structured approach.”

Kitzhaber likes to point out that the state has already enrolled 70,000 through the “fast track” option via the Oregon Health Plan. That’s 10 percent of the uninsured in Oregon, but they’re signing up for Medicaid, not private health insurance.

This is a common trend in other states. Though Washington’s exchange is working, 42,605 sign-ups have been for Medicaid while 6,390 are for private insurance.

“What that makes Obamacare look like more and more is significant Medicaid expansion,” Domenech said.

OHA is now focusing on getting the 10,300 at-risk Oregonians not eligible for the state’s fast track enrollment covered, Wentz said. The agency has set up a processing center at the Cherry Avenue Training Center in Salem with about 170 workstations.

The temporary workers will be available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving and possibly Veterans Day. They’ll get paid between $14 and $17 and won’t get health benefits, according to Wentz. Cover Oregon employees will have the option of health benefits.

While Kitzhaber said Obamacre is more than a website, Domenech said that’s like saying is more than a website.

“If the website is down you can’t actually access any of the products,” he said. “The exchange is a website fundamentally.”

Contact Shelby Sebens at [email protected]

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Part of 97 in the series Obamacare
  1. Obamacare compliance means less money for TN service agencies
  2. The mystery of Obamacare spending in Arkansas
  3. Obamacare raises questions for MD small business owners
  4. Kansas official on Obamacare: ‘Let someone else be the guinea pig’
  5. Obamacare insurance marketplace has plenty of kinks on first day
  6. OR’s Obamacare insurance marketplace hits technological snag
  7. Fail: Day 1 of the New Mexico Obamacare rollout
  8. Senator asks: Do you want this dysfunctional government taking over health care?
  9. Jobs, coverage at risk with Obamacare, MN union health official says
  10. Oregon’s Obamacare ads resemble middle school art
  11. VIDEO: Obamacare vs Affordable Care Act: Comedy triumphs in court of confusion
  12. Patience is key to navigating Illinois’ Obamacare marketplace
  13. Hawaii residents, lawmakers frustrated with health connector glitches
  14. Healthy young, key to Obamacare, aren’t buying it
  15. NM’s health exchange tries to lure ‘young invincibles’
  16. Obama drama: Senator blames governor for big rate hikes
  17. Progressive group navigates Oregon students through Obamacare
  18. Maddening: Trying to log onto federal health care site
  19. You know that one guy who successfully signed up for Obamacare? He didn’t
  20. What’s wrong? It’s been a week, and Obamacare website still not working
  21. HHS Secretary Sebelius back in FL after embarrassing Obamacare rollout
  22. Health centers enroll Floridians in Obamacare as application problems persist
  23. VIDEO: Stewart skewers Sebelius on Obamacare
  24. Obamacare effect? 9 companies exit Nebraska’s health insurance market
  25. Obamacare: Children of undocumented parents face an uncertain future
  26. Which way do we go? Obamacare navigator registration in TN in question
  27. NM health exchange tries to ease problems with Obamacare website
  28. CPA says hype over Obamacare small business tax credit is misleading
  29. Obamacare navigator under fire for arrest warrant
  30. Reports of Obamacare fraud emerge in Tennessee
  31. After two weeks, FL online Obamacare enrollees are hard to find
  32. Illinois state governor touts 100K Obamacare enrollees, all in Medicaid
  33. Kansas lawmaker calls for crackdown on Obamacare navigators
  34. WI health care exchange seeing few getting through
  35. Hawaii’s Obamacare exchange relaunches with more glitches
  36. We’ll know next month how many people in NM signed up for Obamacare — maybe
  37. Zero: Number of Nebraskans Obamacare navigators have signed up
  38. It took this Delaware woman 11 days to sign up for Obamacare – and she was the first
  39. How many people have signed up for health insurance in VA? Who knows?
  40. What else? NM federal health exchange ads stalled due to website problems
  41. Blue Cross hires temp workers to deal with Obamacare glitches
  42. If Obamacare is the next Medicare, will physicians leave en masse?
  43. Three problems that won’t be solved by fixing the Obamacare exchange glitches
  44. Plenty of Oregonians interested in Obamacare, but none can enroll online
  45. Criticize this: Obamacare premiums a near match to WI disclosures
  46. Report: Missourians will see sharp rise in premiums under Obamacare
  47. Kansas navigators say they’ve enrolled no one in Obamacare
  48. Obamacare too costly for rich Coloradans, Democrat congressman says
  49. Study: Kansas premiums to spike following Obamacare rollout
  50. Hang on to your candy: Creepy Uncle Sam is back
  51. Obamacare or bust: NM Watchdog turned back again
  52. Medical journals, experts refute claim that Medicaid cuts ER use
  53. Arkansas spends $4M on Obamacare ads, wants more
  54. LOL: In July video, HHS bragged about being ‘on schedule’ with Obamacare
  55. Illinois uses Day of the Dead to market Obamacare
  56. Sebelius denies GOP’s Terry ‘unreliable’ Obamacare info
  57. About 290,000 Washington residents lose health insurance plans
  58. Broken promise: Obamacare cancels almost 20,000 Kansas health care plans
  59. Top hospitals opt out of Obamacare
  60. Obamacare moves to intensive care
  61. Obamacare provision could lead to more Medicaid fraud
  62. Obamacare: Religious groups want to ‘move mountains’
  63. Obamacare hitting Wisconsin residents with double whammy
  64. Kansas AG: Obamacare threatens consumer privacy
  65. 1,500 in New Mexico have to move out of the high-risk insurance pool
  66. Cover Oregon website fiasco creates jobs, but costs millions
  67. For Florida’s Obamacare small business exchange, it’s crunch time
  68. Only 877 Wisconsinites have signed up for Obamacare, federal report says
  69. Just 172 in NM have completed Obamacare applications: ‘Woefully inadequate,’ says NMIX board member
  70. With only 346 Oklahomans signed up, leaders decry ‘Obamacare debacle’
  71. Defying Obamacare: ‘Send them the bill,’ NM insurance official says
  72. Kansas Obamacare enrollment dwarfed by nearly 20,000 cancellations
  73. Numbers don’t lie: In Illinois, Obamacare means Medicaid
  74. Wisconsin governor proposes insurance plan to address Obamacare rollout failure
  75. Tennesseans might know Tuesday if they can keep canceled health insurance
  76. People demand answers over Oregon’s Obamacare fail
  77. Calif. says ‘no’ to Obamacare freebies, makes own law
  78. HI health exchange violates federal law, League of Women Voters say
  79. Obamacare video winner: ‘Forget about the price tag’
  80. Harvard study finds ‘striking’ rejection of Obamacare by young Americans
  81. HI health exchange has signed up 574 people, for about $348,000 apiece
  82. Are the uninsured getting Obamacare coverage in Illinois?
  83. Secret Obamacare handbook the feds don’t want you to see is online
  84. Lost in translation: Once-supportive Hispanics turning backs on Obama, ACA
  85. HI Obamacare exchange not fiscally sustainable, lawmakers told
  86. Illinois’ latest Obamacare targets: gold diggers and momma’s boys
  87. Now Democrats are bashing California’s Obamacare exchange, too
  88. Obamacare: For $1.37M we get Richard Simmons in lurid web stream
  89. Obamacare: A welcome mat for IRS horrors
  90. California senator seeks audit of state Obamacare exchange
  91. Report: Hawaii ranks worst for Obamacare signups
  92. CA senator sues Obamacare exchange for causing policy cancellations of 1M
  93. Failure of Maryland Obamacare exchange could mean higher premiums in North Dakota
  94. Video: Watch Creepy Uncle Sam make it rain
  95. Five bright spots surrounding the Obamacare exchange failures
  96. Obamacare architect admitted in 2012 states without exchanges lose subsidies
  97. Architects of Richard Simmons Obamacare dance-off rehired in $156M PR campaign


Shelby formerly served as staff reporter for