Rep. Jason Conger Asks Governor Kitzhaber To Close Down Failed “Cover Oregon”
Conger Asks The State To Allow Needy Oregonians to Buy Coverage Directly From Insurers Using Subsidies
SALEM, OR – Rep. Jason Conger (R-Bend) announced today that he has sent a letter to Gov. John Kitzhaber urging him to close down the failed “Cover Oregon” healthcare exchange.
“Cover Oregon is a huge and costly failure and a national embarrassment for Oregon,” Conger wrote. “Members of legislature, including me, had to decide between a Federal Government exchange or one Oregon controlled. We opted for local control. We put our trust in your administration to execute a functional healthcare exchange and you have failed. It is unacceptable to waste more taxpayer money on a failed system that will never work as promised.”
Conger said that there may be as much as $200 million of the $304 million the federal government provided to Oregon for the state exchange that has not been spent and urged Kitzhaber to return the unused funds (and any funds recovered from the Cover Oregon contractors) to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the national debt.
“I have no confidence that many of the same individuals, agencies and companies that presided over this on-going disaster are in a position to salvage the state website,” he wrote. “Indeed, I don’t believe they should be afforded yet another chance to fail – I have simply lost faith in this whole project.”
Conger proposed allowing the state’s poor and uninsured to access federal subsidies when they buy plans already offered on the exchanges directly from the state’s insurers rather than having them left fending for themselves in a Federal Exchange that is equally as troubled as Cover Oregon.
“I believe the state should rely on the private sector to rescue it from Cover Oregon’s epic failure. Consumers would not have to go to online exchanges that don’t work to purchase the coverage they need,” he said in his letter to Kitzhaber.
Conger acknowledged that allowing consumers to side-step government healthcare exchanges would likely require a federal waiver, but pointed out that the federal government has granted quite a few waivers and exemptions already, including to Oregon on other matters under Kitzhaber’s leadership.