Lawmakers call for Cover Oregon investigation

A screen shot from a Cover Oregon YouTube ad. (Cover Oregon image) A screen shot from a Cover Oregon YouTube ad. (Cover Oregon image)

Four Republican leaders at the House Energy & Commerce Committee want investigators to take a look at Oregon's state-based health insurance exchange.

The organizers of Cover Oregon received $304 million in federal grants and $160 million in state funding, but exchange still doesn't have a working enrollment website.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the chairman of the committee, and the chairmen of the communications, oversight and health subcommittees, have asked U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro to have his agency -- the U.S. Government Accountability Office -- review how the Oregon exchange used its money.

"If Oregon decides to abandon the Cover Oregon website and state-run exchange, what capability does the federal government have to reclaim the grant funds?" the lawmakers ask.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services runs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchanges for many states.

The lawmakers are asking Dodaro to find out how much having handle exchange enrollment for Oregon would cost.

Experts began telling Oregon exchange managers that their project had problems as early as November 2011, but they ignored the warnings and claimed that the project was on schedule, the lawmakers write.

"The catastrophic breakdown of Cover Oregon is unacceptable, and taxpayers deserve accountability," the lawmakers write.

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