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Urban League helps a student to sing up for Cover Oregon
The Associated Press
Published: 17 December 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Dr. Bruce Goldberg, acting director of Cover Oregon, says the state's insurance exchange has significantly increased enrollment in private health plans to an estimated 7,500 people.

A week ago, 730 people had enrolled in private plans.

Goldberg said many more people will be enrolled before the end of the month. About 13,000 people who have applied to Cover Oregon were enrolled in Medicaid.

Oregon significantly lags other states because its online enrollment system still doesn't work, more than two months after it was supposed to launch. The state is using paper applications, and more than 400 workers are working around the clock processing them manually.

“The paper process is new. We've gotten it up rapidly,” Goldberg said. “There's been a lot of interest in it, a lot of applications.”

Goldberg said Cover Oregon will hire two experts to review software code written by Oracle Corp., the primary contractor developing the exchange technology, and he repeated a pledge to hold the company accountable.

Cover Oregon officials have said previously that they've withheld about $20 million in payments from Oracle and hired a law firm to review the state's contract with the technology company. The software-development contract is not for a fixed price, but rather requires the state to pay an hourly fee.

“We're going to withhold payment. Work will continue on the website,” Goldberg said Monday.

Goldberg said Cover Oregon will try to get in touch with everyone who has submitted an application to tell them its status and lay out their options if they need coverage to begin Jan. 1. People who won't be able to get insurance through Cover Oregon can buy coverage directly from an insurance company, he said, although they won't be eligible for tax credits.

The state has also created a temporary program for people in a high-risk pool, which includes people with diseases such as cancer who had been turned down for private insurance. The high-risk pool dissolves at the end of the year, but people in the program who haven't bought a new commercial plan will be automatically enrolled in the temporary program through March.

There's no estimate for when Cover Oregon website will be able to fully launch, but Goldberg has said it won't happen before the end of January.

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