Oregon’s trials and tribulations with Cover Oregon, the State’s in-house Obamacare health exchange marketplace, got a lot worse over the weekend.
Actually, the latest headache happened weeks ago, but the public just found out about it over the weekend. On Saturday, The Oregonian reported that Cover Oregon accidentally enrolled nearly 4,000 illegal immigrants in full-fledged health insurance coverage thanks to a “goof” whereby the illegals’ enrollment in a (legal) pregnancy services program was somehow conflated with Cover Oregon’s enrollment database.
From The Oregonian:
The Cover Oregon health insurance exchange was designed to communicate electronically with the Oregon Health Authority, which has a system for tracking Oregon Health Plan members.
That interface failed to work, however, and in late November Cover Oregon set up a backup system by which new OHP enrollee information is sent to the Oregon Health Authority, where state workers upload the data manually.
The information was sent over incorrectly and in an incomplete fashion until a few weeks ago, Paul said Friday. That resulted in 3,800 applicants for the Citizen/Alien-Waived Emergent Medical program receiving full OHP benefits instead. The program is set up for immigrants who are either undocumented or haven’t met the residency requirement for Medicaid.
Of course, Cover Oregon is having to fix the problem manually, one case at a time, because the system was never designed to correct problems it wasn’t developed to have in the first place. In fact, several aspects of Cover Oregon’s intended automated case-management functionality have had to be redundantly carried out by human staffers because the exchange has never worked properly.
“Oregon Health Authority workers have had to send out federally required notices to OHP members by hand, rather than in the automated way originally intended,” the story observes.
And the newspaper reviews some of the exchange’s other problems:
- Thousands of OHP enrollees were labeled as individuals rather than family members, meaning some families were split between care organizations — creating needless hassles for parents seeking care.
- For months, the State grappled with inaccurate Medicaid coding, crucial to securing accurate Federal matching funds.
- Department of Human Services workers who used to help clients afflicted by erroneous information now face difficulties doing so because their responsibilities have been transferred to Cover Oregon.
Of course, these are just a few mundane examples of problems that have plagued a glitch-riddled, unpopular, bloated and ineffectual mess of a website that, during its first month of operation, managed to enroll not a single person.
Now that the site has finally managed to rack up more than 100,000 (presumably legitimate) enrollments, State officials are beginning to gloat about the first signs of success — never mind that two-thirds of its enrollees, to date, are nonpaying residents in the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s Medicaid-style free-coverage program.