This is a state where they actually want their socialized medicine.
With all the problems facing the rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, nowhere is the situation worse or more surprising than in Oregon, a progressive state that has enthusiastically embraced the federal law but has so far failed to enroll a single person in coverage through the state’s insurance exchange.
Despite grand ambitions, an early start, millions of dollars from the federal government and a tech-savvy population, Oregon’s online enrollment system still isn’t ready more than a month after it was supposed to go live. The state has resorted to hiring or reassigning 400 people to process insurance applications by hand.
“We’re all surprised and frustrated that we’re in the position that we’re in now,” said Jesse O’Brien, a health care advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, which lobbied for the exchange.
The state has received about 18,000 paper applications, at 19 pages each, and is scrambling to manually file and clear them. State officials have not been able to say when they expect the online system to launch, nor have they established a deadline to submit paper applications in order for coverage to begin Jan. 1. Meanwhile, the exchange’s board is demanding answers from the executive director about when the website will work and how his team will get people enrolled on time.
For consumers, the application process can be long and frustrating.
“I’ve been trying since the very first day of October just to try to find out the coverage I could get,” said Donna George, 43, a bookkeeper from Bend, Ore., who’s been uninsured for three years.
Failure. It’s what’s for lunch. Curiously, nobody seems to be talking about the disasters to follow, namely not getting to keep your doctor, actually finding a doctor that participates in this mess and the fact you can expect your premiums to increase annually. Other than that things are working out splendidly.
Oregon does have one big success to brag about. The state has enrolled 70,000 people in Medicaid, reducing the ranks of the uninsured by more than 10 percent. The large number of Medicaid enrollments came in large part thanks to a “fast-track” enrollment process approved by the Obama administration. Using income data already on file, the state mailed a simple seven-question Medicaid enrollment form to people in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program who qualify for health coverage under the federal health law’s expansion of Medicaid.
Um, people going on the welfare roles is a big success? Really? My, how we’ve redefined success in the age of Obama.