NEWS: Bend Bulletin: Walden: GAO Should Investigate Cover Oregon

February 13, 2014

Committee Leaders Request Government Watchdog Investigate Failed Oregon Health Care Exchange

Walden: “It’s time to get to the truth. It’s time to get transparency and accountability…This cannot be swept under the rug.”

Months after the start of open enrollment, Oregon’s online health insurance exchange was still not able to successfully enroll a single person. Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) told The Bend Bulletin, “‘This is an embarrassment for the state to have a website like this that doesn’t function. It’s extraordinary mismanagement.’”

House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have requested a government watchdog investigation of the failed exchange. In a letter to the Government Accountability Office committee leaders write, “In the nearly four months since HealthCare.gov and the state-run insurance exchanges launched, consumers have encountered numerous problems at both the federal and state level. Although the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has been problematic nationwide, no state has had more complications than Oregon.” During the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation of the failed rollout of HealthCare.gov, the committee has learned that top administration officials have known for months that the federal exchanges were on track for nothing short of disaster. The letter continues, “We are only now learning that Cover Oregon’s architects have known of the program’s design flaws for years. In fact, the warnings go as far back as November 2011.”

Walden, full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) “request that the Government Accountability Office review the taxpayer dollars used to fund Cover Oregon.” Read the complete letter online here.

February 12, 2014

Walden: GAO Should Investigate Cover Oregon

The Congressman Wants to Know What’s Become of Hundreds of Millions of Federal Funding for the Troubled Health Care Exchange

Four members of the House, including Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, on Wednesday called upon the Government Accountability Office to investigate the handling of taxpayer funds by Cover Oregon, the state’s troubled health care exchange.

Although the federal government has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the development of Oregon’s exchange, it was not ready for its Oct. 1 launch and remains unable to enroll users in health care plans online as intended.

“It’s time to get to the truth. It’s time to get transparency and accountability,” Walden told The Bulletin on Wednesday. “This cannot be swept under the rug. That’s why I think it’s really important to get an independent look through the GAO, so they can give us a factual view of what transpired and what we can get back.”

According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, Oregon received more than $300 million in federal grants to create the Cover Oregon exchange.

That includes a $226.4 million phase two grant in January 2013 to cover expenses related to testing, training and implementation of the online exchange.

In a letter to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Walden and the others asked the GAO to investigate how the funds were used, whether the federal government can recoup any of its grant money and what additional costs have been incurred because of Cover Oregon’s failed launch. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Health subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts, R-Pa., and Oversight and Investigations subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., also signed the Feb. 12 letter.

“Although the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has been problematic nationwide, no state has had more complications than Oregon,” the letter reads. “We are only now learning that Cover Oregon’s architects have known of the program’s design flaw for years.” …

Read the complete story online here.
 

###