DURHAM, Ore. -- Oregon became the first state in the nation to drop its problem-plagued online health exchange and link up with the federal website.
Cover Oregon's board voted unanimously Friday to approve an advisory committee's recommendation to ditch its troubled portal. Under the option, Oregon will use HealthCare.gov for private policies but continue using its current system for Medicaid enrollments.
A top Cover Oregon official said Thursday fixing the existing system would be too costly at $78 million and would take too long. Switching to the federal system will cost just $4 million to $6 million.
Residents still cannot use Cover Oregon's site to sign up for coverage in one sitting, despite the $134 million the state paid Oracle Corp. to build it.
"I think it's easy to say it's all waste, but I think that's inaccurate and I wouldn't call it that," said interim Cover Oregon director Clyde Hamstreet. "There's been a pretty good job on the outreach...people have heard of it and signed up."
An independent investigation ordered by Kitzhaber last January and released this week found state managers repeatedly failed to heed reports about technical problems that prevented the exchange from launching.
The report also said no one was in charge.
Although there were numerous attempts to define the governance, roles, responsibilities, communication and decision making processes, the project seemed to lack a consistent, cohesive enterprise approach to managing the project. The problem was not a lack of attempts to create the foundational documents; the problem was a lack of authoritative direction.
It also found Oracle did a shoddy job in building the exchange and was paid not for a delivered product, but for time and materials. This payment method went against norms in the industry, the report said.
Five Oregon officials connected to the development of the Cover Oregon portal have resigned.
"There's a lot of disappointment within the staff," Hamstreet said Friday after the final decision was made. "There's a lot of passion for the project, but our job is to get the enrollment working so that people can get their health care insurance."
KGW Reporter Nina Mehlhaf contributed to this report.