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Plagued With Problems, Cover Oregon Hunts For Cure

Oregon’s health insurance exchange has been struggling to sign up applicants.  The state has asked people to submit paper applications, because of problems with its website.

Oregon Health Authority director Bruce Goldberg has stepped in as acting executive director of Cover Oregon. He spoke with Think Out Loud host David Miller Monday, about where the program stands.

Goldberg: “So let me give you the big picture in a couple of ways. One, what I do know is that the goal of this has always been about getting people health insurance. We have 600,000 people uninsured in the state, and as of today, through a combination of getting people onto the Oregon Health Plan, and Cover Oregon, we have about 100,000 people who don’t have health insurance today who will have it on Jan. 1.”

Miller: “Of those, how many will be getting the Oregon Health Plan insurance— Medicaid.”

Goldberg: “The vast majority right now will be getting Medicaid. We’ve been focusing on that. We’ve got close to 100,000 people who will be on Medicaid. And over the next day or so, we’re up a little bit above 500 people today on the insurance exchange and growing every day.”

Miller: “What do you mean 500 people on the insurance exchange”

Goldberg: “Five-hundred people who now are enrolled to get coverage Jan. 1 through Cover Oregon.”

Miller also asked Goldberg if the website is working yet.

Goldberg: “No, we’re not operational today, and I don’t anticipate the website being operational for individuals, community partners, agents or anybody until after the 1st of the year. One of the things I’m doing right now is looking at that, being clear on what our milestones are. I’m going to be looking this week to report to the public on exactly where we are, what needs to be done, but it’s very clear to me that we won’t have an operational website until after Jan. 1.”

Goldberg says that if somebody applies today, they won’t be eligible for coverage through a commercial health insurance plan by Jan. 1. But he says people can still apply for coverage now, and have insurance in time to meet a mid-March deadline and avoid a penalty from the federal government.

You can hear the entire conversation on the Think Out Loud site.

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