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Cover Oregon isn't out of the woods yet

On Friday, the Cover Oregon board finally made official what most people already knew weeks ago. Their website is broken beyond an easy repair.

Board members decided it was better to cut their losses, suffer the national embarrassment of the failed site and direct people to heathcare.gov.

We think it’s the right call. Yes, it’s sad that Oregon will become known in the world of the Affordable Care Act as the first to throw in the towel on its health exchange site. However, it would be far worse to continue asking Oregonians to sign up for mandated coverage via a system that sort of works, but still results in a wait of up to three weeks.

That being said, we by no means think that Cover Oregon, or state residents still in need of coverage, are out of the woods. Cover Oregon is still facing a federal investigation and lawmakers at the state level have stated intentions to review the decision to discontinue the site. People will want answers about what was done with their tax dollars, and they deserve them. Cover Oregon officials will also have to ensure that nobody who was trying to enroll through the partially-functioning site gets lost in the changeover process. That transition may not create any additional problems, but a local insurance agent said that some customers have already expressed concerns.

Cover Oregon officials now have an opportunity to make its insurance exchange work as intended. When initially proposed, the idea garnered support from most lawmakers, even those who perhaps opposed the Affordable Care Act. We hope that opportunity does not get wasted and Oregonians will be able to enroll in the exchange, obtain their coverage, and do so without lengthy, frustrating waits.

Meanwhile, we urge Cover Oregon to answer to the public. Millions of dollars went into a website that never functioned properly, and not coming clean on what happened will only make the situation worse in the court of public opinion than it already is.

This narrative can either become a cautionary tale that is concluded with a moment of redemption, or it can end up a story about a colossal failure of leadership.

Cover Oregon, the ball is in your court.



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