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What's next for Cover Oregon enrollees?

by: KOIN NEWS 6 - North by Northeast Community Center patient care coordinator Dolly England says Cover Oregon is still a lifeline for those without insurance.Just one day after Cover Oregon’s board voted to shut down online enrollment, the troubled health exchange is still signing up new candidates amid profound uncertainty.

The website is officially a bust, but the organization continues on, as it held an enrollment event in Northeast Portland Saturday.

Dozens of people looking for health insurance attended and many were unsure of what the decision to scrap Cover Oregon will mean for them.

“It’s very important, you never know what’s going to happen to you,” said new enrollee Cynthia Christmas.

But, the exchange claims the end of the website won’t affect people already enrolled, or still planning to enroll.

“Any future technology changes are not going to affect Oregonians today,” said Cover Oregon spokeswoman Elizabeth Cronen.

“We’re going to continue to enroll people as long as they want to enroll,” said Northeast Community Health Center spokeswoman Dolly England. “This is a lifeline for our patients, we’re working with people who haven’t had health care in 15 or 20 years.”

The decision to shut down Cover Oregon’s website comes after nearly $300 million was spent trying to patch technical errors.

Cover Oregon employees were processing applications by hand, the deadline for which is the end of April.

However, the next enrollment date for healthcare.gov is November.

It is still unclear whether people enrolled in private plans through Cover Oregon will have to re-enrol, or whether their information will be transferred.

We are still unsure what’s going to happen in the future, with the transition over to the federal site,” said England.

“But we do know the Cover Oregon website as it is now is going to be available to do enrollment onto the Oregon health plan, and most of our patient population is eligible for the Oregon Health plan.”

Hundreds of Cover Oregon employees will lose their jobs when the change happens.

England said the Northeast Community Center will continue to sign people up to ensure clients have access to quality care.

Cover Oregon’s next board meeting is set for May 8.