Congress wants answers on $300 million Oregon exchange
Despite receiving more than $300 million in federal funds, Oregon’s health care exchange has yet to successfully enroll a single user despite open enrollment being available for more than four months.
And now congressional leaders want to know exactly where all that money went.
In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of the United States Congress, four members of the House of Representatives are calling for an investigation into how the exchange, called Cover Oregon, handled taxpayer funds.
“It’s time to get to the truth. It’s time to get transparency and accountability,” Rep. Greg Walden told The Bulletin in Bend, Ore., on Wednesday. “This cannot be swept under the rug. That’s why I think it’s really important to get an independent look through the GAO, so they can give us a factual view of what transpired and what we can get back.”
Walden, along with fellow Republicans Fred Upton of Michigan and Joe Pitts and Tim Murphy, both of Pennsylvania, wrote the letter to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro where they asked for GAO to investigate how the funds were used, if any of it can be recouped and what additional costs have occurred because of Cover Oregon’s struggles.
The state has already invested $160 million of its own money into the exchange in addition to the more than $300 million in federal funds, which included a $226.4 million phase two grant in January of 2013 to cover expenses related to testing, training and implementation.
“Although the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has been problematic nationwide, no state has had more complications than Oregon,” the letter reads. “We are only now learning that Cover Oregon’s architects have known of the program’s design flaw for years.”
More than 1.3 million Americans have so far enrolled in coverage through the Affordable Care Act, according to the most recent data, but only 33,808 were in Oregon.