'Your Voice, Your Vote:' What's next for Cover Oregon?

'Your Voice, Your Vote:' What's next for Cover Oregon? »Play Video
Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend (left) and Rep. Shemia Fagan, D-Clackamas, (center) join KATU's Steve Dunn on "Your Voice, Your Vote" Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 to discuss the future of Cover Oregon. Click the "Play Video" button to watch the entire show.

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: