Legislature Aimed at Improving Access to Cover Oregon, IT Oversight Bills


Governor Kitzhaber praised the Oregon Legislature for advancing three bills aimed at improving oversight of state information technology projects and ensuring that Oregonians have improved access to health insurance through Cover Oregon. 

“The Legislature is asking the right questions about what went wrong during the rollout of the Cover Oregon website,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “Just as the Legislature did when it passed the original pieces of legislation to create Oregon’s health insurance exchange and our Coordinated Care Organizations, we are demonstrating that it is possible to have a healthy, vigorous debate and still come together in a bipartisan manner.” 

House Bill 4154 contains a number of provisions that will help Oregonians impacted by the difficulties of the Cover Oregon rollout. The bill, sponsored by Representative Fagan, won unanimous approval in the House Health Care Committee on Wednesday.  

A companion bill in the Senate, SB 1582, is designed to ensure that no Oregonian who has a pre-existing health condition falls through the cracks. The bill establishes a short-term health coverage program for current Oregon Medical Insurance Program members who did not enroll in replacement coverage by December 31, 2013. The Governor praised the bill, which is sponsored by Senate President Peter Courtney and passed out of the Senate Committee on Health Care and Human Services with a unanimous vote. “Peter stepped up as soon as he became aware of the potential gap in coverage for these Oregonians. He has been a champion for addressing their needs.” 

A third piece of legislation, House Bill 4122, is aimed at ensuring better oversight and accountability for future IT projects. The bill unanimously passed the House Consumer Protection and Government Efficiency Committee. It would require an independent quality assurance review for all public IT contracts of $5 million or greater, and other public IT contracts that meet specified requirements.

These improvements will give the state’s recently hired Chief Information Officer, Alex Petit, expanded authority and help the state hold its technology vendors accountable for delivering results. The Governor applauded the bill’s chief co-sponsors, Representatives Nathanson, Holvey, and Greenlick. “This is a significant piece of legislation. It shows that our Legislature remains focused on finding real solutions, not grandstanding and playing DC-style partisan politics.” 

HB 4154 and SB 1582 were both referred to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means before advancing to their respective floors. HB 4122 next moves to the House floor. “No one is angrier than I am about the issues we have with Cover Oregon. No one wants to get to the bottom of this more than I do. My goal is to get Oregonians enrolled in quality, affordable health insurance and we are getting it done. We have enrolled more than 226,000 Oregonians in health insurance since the New Year,” said Governor Kitzhaber.


Health Care Enrollment Figures as of Feb. 6, 2014

226,108 Oregonians now enrolled in coverage:  

• 102,764 enrolled through Cover Oregon 

               o 35,247 into private/commercial insurance 

               o 67,517 into Medicaid 

• 123,344 in Medicaid through Oregon “fast track” process 

               o Oregon is one of a few states that created a “fast track” process to immediately       determine eligibility for and enroll people in Medicaid health care. 

There are an additional (approximately) 35,000 individuals who had their applications processed through Cover Oregon. They have the information they need to enroll in a private commercial insurance plan but have yet to do so. 

To enroll the 102,764 applicants, Cover Oregon has used the technology built by its technology vendors. For example, parts of the website are used to shop for and compare insurance plans, to determine for which programs applicants are eligible, to calculate the amount of available tax credits for each applicant, and to service their accounts. 

Oregon enrollments rank 7th among the 14 states, and Washington D.C., that have built their own exchanges. 


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