"Affordable" Care Act and "Cover Oregon"
The October 1st debut of the Affordable Care
Act has been nothing less than a disaster. In most
states the system remains nonfunctional nearly a month
after its introduction. As many as 100 million people
who are seeking medical insurance have been turned away
because the system simply does not work.
Millions are looking to the Affordable Care Act
Exchanges as a market place to find health insurance to
replace existing policies that have been cancelled by
their insurance carriers pursuant to implementation of
the Act. Millions more are looking to the Exchanges to
replace policies that have been made obsolete or illegal
under the complex provisions of ObamaCare.
Not only are the Exchange websites non-functional, but
the federal employees hired to help navigate the complex
system are ill prepared to answer important questions.
Worse, many of these Exchange employees across the
nation appear to have a “What me worry?” attitude. It
appears that neither the President nor anyone in the
Obama administration knows how to fix the system or even
seem to be concerned that it’s broken.
Closer to home, nearly $60 million of federal tax-money
was invested in order to make Oregon’s health insurance
exchange website a poster child for ObamaCare
efficiency. Oregon governors and their staffs have been
studying the concept of government run health insurance
marketplaces for more than a decade. That is a major
reason why Oregon was selected to be a national leader
in establishing the exchange websites.
In total, more $300 million of federal tax money was
spent to get CoverOregon up and running. The Oregon
Health Authority spent another $20 million to advertise
its heralded October 1st “roll-out”.
Unfortunately, CoverOregon IS the poster child for
The Exchange has yet to enroll its first customer since
its October 1st opening. Oregon Health
Authority managers insist that the system is not broken;
however, they concede that it does not work. Further,
after already moving to management Plan C without
measurably improving performance, managers are unable to
set a date when the system will work.
This is NOT just a failure of internet technology!
The plan to create a State of Oregon managed insurance
marketplace includes eleven carriers for personal
insurance, eight carriers for small business policies
and ten dental insurance providers. The Exchange is also
designed to provide direct access for families who
qualify for publicly funded health insurance including
Oregon Health Plan and Healthy Kids.
The complexity of the Oregon program is absurd. No
functional program can have so many moving parts. As
many as 1,700 insurance-eligibility governing rules are
written into the software programs. This is nearly seven
times as many as are found in several other states. In
fact, many qualified insurance professionals believe
that CoverOregon has too many complex deficiencies to
The CoverOregon website’s on-line questions are
confusing at best and often lead users in circles. One
set of questions appear to be created by programmers who
fail to understand even the difference between net and
gross business income.
For instance, the Oregon system has no place to enter
ordinary business expenses for self-employed taxpayers,
according to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial
excoriating CoverOregon. All business owners understand
that business expenses must be subtracted from gross
business income in order to establish net business
income. Because the program provides no way to establish
net business income, the taxable modified adjusted gross
income, which consists of net business income less IRA
contributions and certain other allowable deductions,
cannot be established.
The system then requires the 2014 health insurance costs
to be estimated by calculations based upon the modified
adjusted gross income. However, there is no way to
calculate and enter that figure on the site. These
circular requirements create a dead end that prevents
Moreover, state employees were hired to staff the
CoverOregon websites to act as navigators for those who
attempt to use the site. These navigators are often
unable to answer basic questions regarding tax-credit
eligibility, insurance costs, or even to describe how
the basic-elements of available policies may apply.
Their lack of preparation to discuss tax code and
insurance options is embarrassing at best. The current
program is wasting many callers’ time and causing them
Governor Kitzhaber has acted as a national cheerleader
for ObamaCare since its enactment in 2010. In fact, the
national plan is closely aligned with his signature
Oregon Health Plan. He has travelled extensively to
Washington D.C. to help solicit the funding to create
Oregon’s ObamaCare West.
Our Governor has used the federal funds that he
successfully solicited to build the CoverOregon exchange
and to leverage support for implementation of the
Affordable Care Act in Oregon. For the past month, he
has been uncharacteristically silent on the issue,
virtually missing in action.
Governor Kitzhaber and other Democrat leaders sold the
health care exchange to the public on the promise that
government sponsored free market competition would
improve access to health care and provide better
services at reduced costs. However, equating the free
market with a government managed monopoly is at best
oxymoronic. It now appears obvious that the exchanges
were created by folks who are not subject to those free
market forces and may not even understand them.
Those of us who consistently voted in opposition to
ObamaCare West endured a great deal of criticism.
Business organizations, Chambers of Commerce, medical
associations and constituents alike chastised me for not
getting on board.
However, free market competition cannot exist when
managed by government bureaucrats. Long experience has
taught me to have no expectation of efficiency, cost
savings, or better service from a government run
monopoly enterprise. The countless hours I and my staff
invested in studying and researching the Affordable Care
Act provided no basis for changing that expectation.
I voted NO!
I rest my case.
Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon
no one will.