Oregon officials have given up trying to salvage a part of the state’s failed health information exchange, a project that cost more than $240 million. The controversial project led to the firings of a number of high-ranking state officials amid multiple investigations into what went wrong.
Instead, Oregon will now look to use technology from another state government that has built a successful system, although it has yet to specifically name which one.
Earlier this year, Oregon officials said they would try to use portions of the Cover Oregon system that struggled to enroll the state’s citizens for benefits as part of the Affordable Care Act during last year’s open enrollment period for its Oregon Health Plan.
The decision to move to a new system will allow Oregon to cut ties with Oracle Corp., which built the failed system and has been in a back-and-forth legal battle with the state to determine who is at fault for the system’s struggles.
Oregon officials claimed Oracle did not deliver on certain promises and produced a system that was doomed to fail, while Oracle has claimed the state continually made changes to the project and was indecisive about major decisions.
There was still a kernel of hope the two could reconcile and not essentially waste the entire project. The Oregonian reported that some state officials hoped that if the system Oracle built could be adjusted to work for the Oregon Health Plan, which handles Medicaid enrollment, it could be rescued and put back in place after the state spent a year on the project as part of the federal government’s healthcare.gov. That’s because the Medicaid enrollment project would provide a great deal of the functionality needed for a state-based exchange.
The decision to end this agreement, though, came as state officials said Oracle showed a lack of cooperation in the new plan, further creating the desire by state officials to move on entirely from the project.
Oregon was one of 15 states opting to build its own exchange instead of initially going with the federal model. The states that built their own platforms have seen varying levels of success, with some, such as Kentucky and California, flourishing, while those in Oregon, Nevada and Maryland struggle.
Oregon’s exchange has been recognized as one of the worst in the country as citizens are required to use a time-consuming process that involves using the website and submitting paper materials.
An independent investigation ordered by Gov. John Kitzhaber found state managers repeatedly failed to heed reports about technical problems that prevented the Cover Oregon exchange from launching. It also found Oracle did a shoddy job in building the exchange.
Five Oregon officials connected to the development of the Cover Oregon portal have resigned. Kitzhaber has insisted communications about the portal’s troubles never reached him as the planned Oct. 1 launch last year neared.