PORTLAND --Gov. John Kitzhaber said Thursday the state has commissioned an independent review of what went wrong with Oregon's troubled health insurance exchange, but that he had no idea when the would be up and running.

Speaking at a news conference in Portland, Kitzhaber said he'd hired First Data, a tech management company, to review and decide if the state should sue Oracle, the site's technical designers.

If the state does sue, it would recoup some of the money spent on a site that has not worked since Cover Oregon began taking applications three months ago. Most people are filling out paper applications.

So far, some 20,000 people have shopped and chosen a private insurance plan through Cover Oregon, Kitzhaber said.

But the governor said the state now has 170,000 newly insured residents. This number includes people on the Oregon Health Plan, the state's expanded Medicaid program, and those who signed up for insurance through Cover Oregon.

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A year ago, the problem was that there were 170,000 people who didn't have any idea or hope of getting insurance coverage, Kitzhaber said. Today we have 170,000 people who know they can get insurance coverage. Their problem is actually getting connected. So if you're going to have a problem that's not a bad problem to have. I know people are frustrated, but the process is getting better.

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Open enrollment ends in March. But neither Cover Oregon's new director, Dr. Bruce Goldberg, nor Kitzhaber could provide any future date for when the website would work. Many who've signed up still haven't received paperwork or insurance cards.

Goldberg said it would be a slow process for a while.


KGWreporter Nina Mehlaff contributed to this story

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