2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Irony: As Kentucky drops their perfectly-working website, Oregon looks to take another shot at launching their own

I actually wrote about this back in December, but things have progressed a bit since then:

Oregon is considering proposals by four companies to provide a new software platform for the state’s health insurance marketplace.

The state uses the federal insurance exchange, http://www.Healthcare.gov, and state officials began to explore other options after the federal government decided to begin charging insurance companies a fee to use the exchange in Oregon.

Oregon has used the federal platform since its own insurance portal, Cover Oregon, failed to launch in 2013. The state and technology company Oracle, which built the Cover Oregon system, are still engaged in a legal battle over who is to blame for the problems.

Technically speaking, HC.gov really should have been charging Oregon the same fee (3.5% of the premiums for policies enrolled in via the exchanges), or at least something close to it, since some of the functions are still handled by the state exchanges. As I noted last fall, HHS is finally cracking down on this starting in the fall, however:

Oregon insurers can continue to use the federal insurance exchange free of charge through the end of this year but in 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to begin charging insurance companies a fee of 1.5 percent of premiums in order to use the federal platform in Oregon. The rate could still increase in future years to the federal government’s original proposal of 3 percent of premiums, according to Lisa Morawski, public information and communications director for the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services which handles the state’s insurance exchange.

Even when it ramps up to the full 3%, states like Oregon and Nevada (and, starting soon, Kentucky) would still be paying less than the other 3 dozen states which don't have their own exchange at all, but it's still apparently more than what they're charging the carriers now.

Note that nothing has been decided yet; they may stick with HC.gov after all, and even if they give their own exchange a 2nd shot, it wouldn't happen until 2018 at least:

On Monday, however, Morawski said the state will not rush to decide whether to make another attempt at launching its own state insurance exchange. “We’re going to be on healthcare.gov for sure for 2017,” Morawski said.

The irony, of course, is in the headline: Oregon flushed $300 million down the drain on their first, disastrous Oracle-developed website for the 2014 Open Enrollment period before scrapping it and moving to HC.gov for 2015-2016. Kentucky's website has worked pretty much perfectly since day one...yet it's being scrapped for no reason other than the fact that new Governor Matt Bevin decided to do so.