Oregon Has Signed up Zero People on Its Health Care Website

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 22 2013 4:25 PM

Oregon Has Still Signed up Zero People for Its Health Exchange

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Beautiful Oregon!

Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

Say what you will about healthcare.gov, but it's still signed up infinitely more people than Oregon's state exchange. Cover Oregon, the state's health exchange site, has failed to sign up a single person for private health insurance since it launched October 1. This is because Oracle, the company who Oregon paid $43.2 million to develop Cover Oregon and provide consulting, "has missed numerous previous deadlines" to bring the site up to speed.

Exchange Director Rocky King faced sharp questioning from state lawmakers for the first time since his organization missed the October deadline to allow people to enroll online.
King said the latest projections show the system should be ready for individuals to enroll online beginning Dec. 16, which would mean people who enroll on the first day would get coverage beginning in February.
"We're not broken," King told lawmakers. "It's just not done."

Aside from news wires like the AP and Reuters, the only consistent coverage has come, unsurprisingly, from right-wing blogs. The only mainstream national journalists I've seen cover the issue are Ezra Klein, who recently called Oregon "perhaps the worst disaster zone in Obamacare's implementation," and his fellow WonkBlogger Sarah Kliff—the number one health care policy reporter you should be following, if you aren't already—who wrote about it last month. But otherwise, crickets.

Health policy reporters are usually drawn to Oregon like moths to a flame because of its interesting method of awarding Medicaid coverage to its residents via lottery (and through Obamacare's "fast-track" program, the state has expanded Medicaid coverage to 70,000 people since October). So why hasn't the New York Times, for instance, run a single story about Oregon's state exchange since before its launch? National newspapers should be reporting on the site's failure and holding Oracle accountable. For now, Larry Ellison is getting off scot free.

Emma Roller is a Slate editorial assistant. Follow her on Twitter.