Cover Oregon

Premium Program Fills Gap in Cover Oregon Affordability

Project Access Now, in partnership with the Portland-area hospitals, is offering a premium assistance program to certain Metro residents who get referred by a clinic or hospital, paying premiums and coinsurance for low-income people who did not qualify for the Medicaid expansion.

For people with modest incomes who haven’t been fortunate enough to receive employer-supported insurance, the Affordable Care Act has been something of a godsend, allowing them to purchase health insurance for the first time without breaking the bank.

Nearly 300,000 people in Oregon are newly enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, and many more had the chance to buy subsidized health insurance on Cover Oregon for a fraction of the sticker price.

Community Group Hits Streets and Spanish Airwaves to Boost Cover Oregon

As the website faltered, Cover Oregon has been ever more reliant on the hard work of community organizations to sign people up. The Interface Network in Salem, which works heavily in the Latino community, has one more open house scheduled for April 19.

The Cover Oregon rollout has been notoriously plagued by a terrible website, but the state has consistently ranked in the middle of the pack compared to other states, and reported 63,000 private enrollments on April 10.

One key reason for this? Community partners, who have taken a more grassroots approach to getting people enrolled. These groups, along with insurance agents, can sit with a consumer face-to-face and guide them through the application process. Agents have been given the ability to enroll people immediately in a subsidized health plan, without waiting for Cover Oregon to take days to process the application.

Cover Oregon Offers Tax Credits to Small Employers

The latest enrollment numbers continue to show that Moda Health is leading the pack, followed by Kaiser and Providence Health Plan, while legislators received an annual report from Cover Oregon, including the status of its finances, enrollment along with conclusions reached by an independent auditor.

Small businesses need not fear – even though Cover Oregon can’t get its SHOP program off the ground, employers can still qualify for a federal tax credit.

Insurance Division Prepares for Rate Increases in 2015 Using Cost and Quality Metrics

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The information-only data will give the state a baseline to track efforts that health insurance companies are making to temper the cost of healthcare while maintaining a level of quality. Rate requests for 2015 will be released in June, posing the possibility of a high rate increase from Moda, which has dominated plans sold on Cover Oregon.

Health insurers must submit their first set of rate increases after the implementation of Cover Oregon to the Insurance Division by May 31, and this year’s filings will include a whole new set of measurements, forcing insurers to do some math about how they’re keeping costs under control.

The new measures, called “Cost and Quality Metrics” will not be used to approve or adjust rate hikes from the insurance companies. Instead, they’re likely to determine future rate increases by taking a snapshot of healthcare spending and cost controls in 2014. The Legislature and the Insurance Division could put some teeth into these metrics later and hold insurers accountable for avoiding big departures from those numbers in subsequent years.

Thompson Tries to Survive Strong Challenge from the Right

Rep. Jim Thompson is among the most influential Republicans on healthcare issues, serving as the vice-chair of the House Health Care Committee. But his support for same-sex marriage and his compromising demeanor on healthcare reforms has forced him to defend his Dallas-based House district against a conservative eager to take a more provocative approach to politics.

Mike Nearman wants to take the Oregon Republican Party in a new direction, one along Tea Party lines and rid the party of so-called “Republicans In Name Only” that hold sway in the Oregon House. He wants to start with Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas, whom he believes hasn’t done enough to derail the hated Obamacare laws.

“He’s content to just get spoon fed whatever Cover Oregon wants,” said Nearman, an information technology professional and the chairman of the Polk County Republicans. “I wouldn’t let John Kitzhaber get away without answering any questions.”

Technical Errors Prevent Cover Oregon from Opening Meeting to Public

Cover Oregon tried to open its legislative oversight committee to the public, only to have technical errors shut the meeting down 12 minutes after it began when the public telephone line failed to work.

Cover Oregon tried to open its legislative oversight committee to the public, only to have technical errors shut the meeting down 12 minutes after it began when the public telephone line failed to work.

The Tuesday meeting was intended to be the first public meeting of the legislative oversight committee, which the Legislature had created to oversee the work of Cover Oregon. Little was known about when these meetings were actually taking place because they were kept secretive and held without access to the public or the media, in possible violation of the Public Meetings Law.

Goldberg’s Exit Shifts Medicaid Transformation into Uncertain Waters

Rep. Mitch Greenlick thinks it was a mistake for the governor to “scapegoat” Goldberg for Cover Oregon’s problems. The outgoing Oregon Health Authority director has been at the center of the state’s attempts to expand healthcare access and reform the delivery system for Medicaid. But others think his exit could be a chance to change a dysfunctional culture at the Oregon Health Authority.

The fallout from the Cover Oregon debacle will not be limited to the failed online insurance exchange and could have major repercussions throughout Oregon’s health system and the coordinated care organization reform efforts, largely due to the loss of longtime public servant Dr. Bruce Goldberg.

Last week, Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Goldberg’s resignation -- the health policy leader took responsibility for his role in the state’s failure to effectively manage lackluster web developer Oracle. While Goldberg headed up the Oregon Health Authority, the California technology giant sent Oregon a large infrastructure of bad codes rather than the functioning website it had promised, leaving Oregon as the only state where consumers cannot sign up for private health insurance online without assistance.

Cover Oregon Ejects Reporters from Closed-Door Meeting with Legislators

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Gov. Kitzhaber announced Tuesday that open enrollment will be extended through April but the exchange is reeling from his announcement last week that top officials would lose their jobs. Cover Oregon staff blocked reporters from a legislative meeting, in possible violation of the Public Meetings Law.

Cover Oregon kicked The Lund Report out of a meeting with top legislators at its Durham headquarters Tuesday, and barred two Statesman-Journal reporters at the door from entering the office.

The reporter from The Lund Report was escorted out of the office by Cover Oregon marketing director Amy Fauver and spokeswoman Ariane Holm, and was told it was a private meeting.

Cover Oregon Audit Released; Goldberg Out Atop Health Authority

Kitzhaber told reporters after the release of the Cover Oregon audit that he was asking Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to review all legal options against hapless technology contractor Oracle. He said bad management of Oracle contributed to the crippling of the exchange. Cover Oregon debacle has cost one of the most recognizable leaders in state government his job.

Dr. Bruce Goldberg, who left his post as the director of the Oregon Health Authority in December to fill in atop Cover Oregon, will stay on at the insurance exchange until a permanent replacement is found next month, but he will not be returning in any form to the health authority when his work at the exchange is done, Gov. John Kitzhaber told reporters Thursday.


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