Rep. Greg Walden: Feds agree to review Cover Oregon

Rep Greg Walden_thb

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to his request to review Cover Oregon, the state’s troubled health exchange.

“Oregonians are rightfully concerned about the failure of Cover Oregon. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on this broken website, and taxpayers have little to show for it. The GAO will take an independent look into what went wrong. They have a reputation for independence and thoroughness. Their investigation will help taxpayers get answers about what happened at Cover Oregon and the over $300 million that has been allocated to the state. Oregonians deserve better,” Walden said.

In their letter to Walden today, the GAO agreed to undertake this work “as part of a broader study planned to examine states’ health exchange websites.” Click here to read the letter.

On February 12, Walden and other top leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to the GAO to request a federal investigation. “The catastrophic breakdown of Cover Oregon is unacceptable and taxpayers deserve accountability,” the members wrote.

Walden chairs the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. He was joined on the letter by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Penn.), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Penn.).

Since 2010, the state of Oregon has been allocated more than $304 million in federal grant dollars to build, test, and operate the Cover Oregon health marketplace. Despite this investment of federal taxpayer dollars, Oregonians remain unable to purchase health insurance coverage through the Cover Oregon marketplace website on their own. Each of the grants the state received had clear summaries describing how the funds were to be used and what Oregon would accomplish with these federal dollars.

Federal agencies, such as the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, have a responsibility for overseeing that the tax dollars they send out are used properly. Given the current state of Cover Oregon, it doesn’t appear that this federal oversight was adequately performed, which is why the leaders requested the investigation.