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Oregon HIX to Join Federal Exchange?

Though the decision has been made for Oregon to join the federal health insurance exchange, the Cover Oregon board is scheduled to hold a vote for the public's sake on April 25.

Following multiple problems with Oregon's state-run health insurance exchange (HIX), officials have decided to throw in the towel and join the federal exchange, according to the Washington Post, which also reports that despite this decision being made behind the scenes, the Cover Oregon board is scheduled to hold a vote for the public's sake on April 25. 

Having failed to sign up even a single applicant through its website, Cover Oregon is one of the most unsuccessful of the 15 state-based exchanges. A spokesperson reported that the goal is to have the exchange operational by 2015.

Some estimates place the cost of Oregon moving to the federal exchange at $4 million to $6 million -- a fraction of what it would cost to fix the state’s exchange

It has not been announced whether those who signed up through the state’s exchange using old fashioned methods will need to repeat the process.

In March, Gartner Analyst Rick Howard said there were four state exchanges just one false step away from failure: Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Oregon. Those states made various mistakes, he said, notably when it came to systems integration. Some states failed to integrate systems properly, or didn’t have enough time to complete testing to ensure functionality, and in Oregon’s case, there was no systems integrator. The successful state exchanges, on the other hand, had solid project management and governance, and kept the scope of their projects from overreaching what the organizations were capable of, he said.

As for meeting goals, Oregon is near the bottom of the pack. As of March 1, about 39,000 had enrolled in the program, meeting just 20 percent of the 189,600 target for the first five months of operation, according to The New York Times. Even worse, only 18 percent of those enrolled were in the 18 to 34 age group, which is below average.

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.
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