PORTLAND, Ore. – With the Cover Oregon website still unable to enroll people who are seeking health insurance, state lawmakers in recent weeks have signaled they're going to take a hard look at what to do next with the state's troubled exchange during the upcoming February legislative session.
Two Republican lawmakers, both of whom are seeking higher office, have publicly said the state should scrap the exchange and go in a different direction. And top Democratic leaders from both chambers, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek, last week released their plans to salvage Cover Oregon.
On Sunday, Republican Rep. Jason Conger of Bend, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat, and Democrat Rep. Shemia Fagan, who represents north Clackamas and mid-Multnomah counties, joined KATU's Steve Dunn on "Your Voice, Your Vote," to discuss what they think the state should do next with Cover Oregon.
Conger, along with gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Dennis Richardson of Central Point, has proposed dumping Cover Oregon and looking at other options. Conger wants to seek a waiver from the federal government to allow insurance seekers to purchase insurance directly from private insurers and still be eligible for tax credits. If the state can’t get the waiver, he said Plan B should be to use the federal exchange.
"I think we've reached the point of this project ever succeeding, as it was sort of sold, are extraordinarily low and an enormous amount of money has already been spent to build a website that doesn't work," he said.
Fagan has introduced a bill for the February session to salvage what she says is good about Cover Oregon but also to help ensure Oregonians don't miss out on tax credits because they couldn't sign up through the website. She also said her bill seeks to hold those accountable for their inability to deliver a fully functional website and to ensure something like the failures of Cover Oregon don't happen again.
"Cover Oregon has not fulfilled its promise of being able to go through the entire shopping and purchasing experience on Cover Oregon," she said. "However, the shopping experience and the competitive marketplace is operational and has been operational. And the problem is if you unplug that, you unplug that competitive marketplace."
In the second segment, both lawmakers also discuss some of their other goals for the February session.
Click on the "Play Video" button above to watch the entire show.
Full coverage of the troubled Cover Oregon website:
- Colossal cost of Cover Oregon prompts lawmaker to call for end to spending
- Cover Oregon head: State might scrap all or part of failed website
- State lawmakers to grill Cover Oregon chief
- Family struggles to sign up for insurance through Cover Oregon
- First legal complaint filed over health enrollment mistakes
- Democratic state lawmaker believes Cover Oregon can be saved
- Contractor plans to examine why Cover Oregon failed
- 'We look like fools:' A history of Cover Oregon's failure
- State rep: Ditch Cover Oregon in favor of federal exchange
- Video: Exclusive Interview: Gov. John Kitzhaber - Cover Oregon 1/9/2014
- Gov. denies prior knowledge of Cover Oregon failure, exits exclusive KATU interview
- Kitzhaber outlines Cover Oregon's next steps: 'I can't give you a date'
- Kitzhaber: Firm will review Cover Oregon failures
- Cover Oregon applications left in limbo?
- Man with cancer waiting on Cover Oregon, gets insured
- Man with cancer still waiting on Cover Oregon
- New calls for Cover Oregon to take responsibility for project failures
- Rocky King, director of troubled Cover Oregon, resigns
- Salem man says Cover Oregon error left him in health care limbo
- Some question if they'll be covered by Cover Oregon in the new year
- What doomed Cover Oregon? 'Mismanagement,' say former employees
- After resigning, Lawson not talking about Cover Oregon website failures
- Ore. health official in charge of building Cover Oregon website resigns
- Fewer enrollments challenge Oregon exchange budget
- Executive director of Cover Oregon taking medical leave
- Cover Oregon considers new solutions
- Kitzhaber calls for independent review of Cover Oregon
- New emails show Cover Oregon unraveling in days before launch
- Emails: Cover Oregon executive knew about website problems in May
- Cover Oregon complicated by state's grand vision