Cover Oregon, we hardly knew ye.
That's primarily because the site never worked properly or enrolled a single Oregonian for 2014 coverage. Now the state is getting out of the health exchange business.
Cover Oregon's board unanimously voted April 25 to move operations to healthcare.gov. It's hard to blame them it will cost $78 million to revamp the non-functioning CoverOregon, yet just $4 million to-$6 million to shift to the federal site.
Yes, that means they will shift to healthcare.gov. The site that was the disaster of October and November worked so smoothly in the ensuing months that it turned into a viable alternative for struggling states. If it can handle exchange enrollees from 36 states (including eight partnership states), there's always room for one more.
Oregon's status in the exchange world has completed reversed from a year ago. It had been touted as leading the state-run exchange pack, promising plenty of technological innovations. From Oct. 1 through March 31, not a single person enrolled online through CoverOregon. The state processed more than 60,000 applications for qualified health plans (Cover Oregon will still serve as a Medicaid enrollment portal, which has been wildly successful due to an expedited enrollment process).
Oregon's enrollment still surpasses many states. But basic functionality is a hallmark of successful exchanges, and CoverOregon could never claim to function at all.
Switching to healthcare.gov won't be the only method, just the most cost-effective one.
As struggling exchanges sort through the debris, successful state-run exchanges and the resurgent healthcare.gov are their models going ahead.
The day after open enrollment ended, Maryland Health Connections board voted to scrap the system in favor of the technology deployed by Access Health CT, one of the nation's most successful exchanges. Access Health CT took its model and began offering an exchange in a box to states that struggled. Among states determined to maintain their own exchange, Connecticut will be an easy option for fixing a broken marketplace.
Several partnership exchanges will likely move to full state-run operations. For 2015, late starters Idaho and New Mexico will convert to full state-run exchanges. Some partnership states like Iowa and Arkansas will probably wait till 2016.
But other struggling state exchanges could contract with Connecticut or default to healthcare.gov. The changes must start now to ensure new and improved exchanges have any bugs worked out for 2015 open enrollment.
With healthcare.gov fixed, there's little incentive to continue running a troubled state exchange. If a state has the momentum to repair rather than replace, a call to Access Health CT could go a long way.
Hawaii, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vermont and Nevada Time to make your moves.
Follow Bill Melville on Twitter @BillMelvilleDRG