Nonpartisan Government Watchdog Accepts Committee’s Request to Investigate Failed Oregon Health Care Exchange

March 6, 2014

Walden: “Their investigation will help taxpayers get answers about what happened at Cover Oregon and the over $300 million that has been allocated to the state.”

The U.S. Government Accountability Office yesterday accepted a request from House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders to investigate Cover Oregon’s failed health care exchange. Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) commented, “Their investigation will help taxpayers get answers about what happened at Cover Oregon and the over $300 million that has been allocated to the state. Oregonians deserve better.” In the request from February, the leaders wrote, “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.”  

March 5, 2014

Federal Government Announces Cover Oregon Investigation

The problems with the Cover Oregon website are going federal.

A spokesperson for Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., told the On Your Side Investigators on Wednesday morning that the Government Accountability Office will proceed with a review of the website.

Walden, who first called for the review on Feb. 12 at a press conference in Medford, told KATU he wants an independent, transparent report.

"I think it’s the biggest investment failure the state’s ever seen, in terms of $300 million allocated for a website that still doesn’t work," he said. "We need answers; we need to get to the truth; we need to get to the facts. This is an incredible expenditure of money with not much to show for it." …

Read the complete story online here.

March 6, 2014

Congressional Investigators to Probe Troubled State Obamacare Exchanges

The investigative arm of Congress on Wednesday agreed to look into problems with state health exchange websites around the country.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office accepted an initial request from a group of House Republicans seeking an audit on how $304 million in federal grants were spent on the Cover Oregon website, which has yet to enroll a single person online without special assistance.

The agency said due to similar requests from several members of Congress and congressional committees related to the rollout of online health care exchanges, it would broaden the investigation and issue several separate reports on its findings. …

Read the complete story online here

March 5, 2014

GAO to Investigate Cover Oregon

The Government Accountability Office will investigate Cover Oregon after members of both houses of Congress asked the government watchdog to look into the troubled health care exchange’s use of taxpayer funds.

The GAO confirmed its decision in separate letters Wednesday to Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, and Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both D-Ore.

“GAO accepts your request as work that is within the scope of its authority and, as agreed with your staff, will undertake this work as part of a broader study planned to examine states’ health exchange websites,” the letters read.

Together with three other members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Walden wrote Feb. 12 to the GAO requesting an investigation into Cover Oregon’s handling of more than $300 million of federal funds. The following day, Merkley and Wyden followed suit.

Walden told The Bulletin Wednesday he is pleased the GAO responded so quickly.

“My hope is that the GAO will get the facts of what happened to the $300-plus million dollars the taxpayers have given to Oregon to build a website that doesn’t work,” he said. …

Read the complete story online here.

March 5, 2014

Congressional Investigators Will Probe Cover Oregon and Other States’ Health Exchanges

The Congressional Government Accountability Office will audit Cover Oregon as part of a larger examination of state-based health insurance exchange projects.

Oregon remains the only site in the country that doesn't let the public self-enroll, despite spending more than $210 million in federal grant money so far. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore) and other House Republicans requested an investigation last month. Oregon's two U.S. Senators, Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, echoed the request a day later.

The GAO won't confine its efforts to just Oregon. It "will undertake this work as part of a broader study planned to examine states’ health exchange websites," said a March 5 letter to Walden from GAO congressional relations director Katherine Siggerud.

The Congressional requests asked GAO to determine how federal funds were spent and whether the federal government provided adequate oversight, among other things. But it's unclear what precisely GAO will focus on, said the office's spokesman, Charles Young: "The exact scope of what we will cover and the time frames will be determined as the work goes forward."

Walden said GAO is known as a nonpartisan, independent office, and "I have every confidence that they'll be very thorough." That Oregon will be one of several states reviewed should lead to "expedited treatment," he said. "You're not at the back of the line. We'll get data sooner, answers quicker and I think that's important in this case." …

Read the complete story online here.

March 6, 2014

Cover Oregon Goes Under Fed Microscope

The feds say they want to take a look at what's making Cover Oregon sick.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office announced Wednesday it will probe Oregon's failure to fully launch its federally funded health insurance exchange.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, demanded the GAO audit last month to account for the $304 million in federal money invested in Cover Oregon.

"The investigation will help taxpayers get answers about what happened at Cover Oregon and the over $300 million that has been allocated to the state," Walden wrote in a prepared statement. …

Read the complete story online here.