GOP leaders call for congressional probe of Cover Oregon

CALL FOR ACTION: GOP lawmakers call for a Congressional investigation of Cover Oregon.

By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog

The Cover Oregon cookie continues to crumble.

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, and other GOP leaders are calling for a federal investigation into the myriad problems of Cover Oregon.

This would now make two inquiries into what went wrong with the state’s Obamacare health exchange that’s still unable to enroll people online and is instead processing paper applications for health insurance.

The independent state investigation called for by Gov. John Kitzhaber will cost $228,000. Northwest Watchdog has requested information from the U.S. Government Accountability Office on how much a congressional investigation would cost. That’s the department Walden is requesting conduct the inquiry.

In their letter to the GAO, Walden and the other lawmakers — House 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. — say while the national exchange has had its share of problems, no state has suffered more complications than Oregon, which was touted as a leader.

“The catastrophic breakdown of Cover Oregon is unacceptable and taxpayers deserve accountability,” the letter states.

The federal government has granted more than $300 million to Oregon for Cover Oregon and the state has spent just less than $200 million so far.

Oregon Republicans have tried to pass a bill this session they say would reform Cover Oregon, including allowing Secretary of State Kate Brown to expedite an audit of Cover Oregon. They also wanted to allow Oregonians to receive federal subsidies when purchasing insurance outside the exchange and directly from insurance providers, as well as require legislators to select their health plan via Cover Oregon and mandate that all findings from any independent review be made public.

The legislation was voted down in the state health care committee along party lines.

“By voting to kill these common sense reforms, House Democrats have confirmed that they don’t really want answers on the Cover Oregon failure, they want political cover,” state Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, said in a press release.

In addition to not functioning adequately, the health exchange program has come under intense scrutiny for allegations of cover-ups and mismanagement.

Contact Shelby Sebens at SSebens@Watchdog.org.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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