Oregon not exactly getting much of a bang for its Obamacare buck
My friend Jeff Kropf, a former talk show host from Portland who's now a political consultant, has been keeping my radio show listeners informed of the Oregon Obamacare website saga these last couple of months.
The site was so riddled with flaws that the state never opened it for business. Now, having spent $300 million in state and federal money for the website, we find out how many Oregonians have signed up for insurance.
A total of 44 people have submitted paper applications so far.
The state's exchange had the fewest sign-ups in the nation, according to a new report today by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The weak number of sign-ups undercuts two major defenses of Obamacare from its supporters.
One defense was that state-based exchanges were performing a lot better than the federal healthcare.gov website servicing 36 states. But Oregon's website problems have forced the state to rely on paper applications to sign up participants.
Another defense of the Obama administration has attributed the troubled rollout of Obamacare to the obstruction of Republican governors who wanted to see the law fail as well as a lack of funding.
But Oregon is a Democratic state that embraced Obamacare early and enthusiastically. Its outreach effort, which included a folk-style music video featuring a singer playing an acoustic guitar against a colorful and scenic backdrop, had been praised among the law's supporters.
And the more than $300 million in federal grant money the state received to build and promote its exchange topped all but two other states - the much more populous New York and California.
The site was built by tech giant Oracle - one of the companies the Obama administration has called in to fix healthcare.gov. They promisd a lot and delivered a gigantic mess. It's so bad, it's probable that the site will not be ready until after the March 31 deadline for signups.
There's also a backlog of 25,000 paper applications that won't be completed in time for people to get coverage. If there's a poster child for Obamacare at the state level, Oregon's disaster would be it.