Oregon hires firm to link to federal health site

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon has hired a tech firm to help transfer the botched Cover Oregon health insurance exchange to the federal exchange website and finish building the state's Medicaid system.

The Oregon Health Authority will pay Deloitte Consulting LLC up to $18.4 million to be the "system integrator" that oversees the transition.

It's the same company that was hired to do an analysis and build a roadmap for the transition. In April, Deloitte recommended the state abandon its troubled exchange because it would be cheaper to switch to the federal site than to fix it. Cover Oregon officials heeded its call and decided to switch to the federal portal.

Oregon's exchange was the only one in the nation that didn't let the public enroll in coverage in one sitting. Instead, Oregonians had to use a time-consuming hybrid paper-online application process to get health insurance. Six top officials connected to the Cover Oregon debacle have resigned.

The decision to forego a system integrator on the original Cover Oregon website was widely blamed for contributing to the site's failure to launch.

An investigation ordered by Gov. John Kitzhaber also found that state managers failed to heed reports about problems that hindered the launch, and that contractor Oracle Corp. did a shoddy job in building the exchange.

Deloitte will create a new website that will redirect Oregonians to HealthCare.gov to enroll in private plans and to the OHA website to enroll in Medicaid. And it will facilitate the transfer of information between OHA and the federal exchange.

The company also will transfer the current Cover Oregon technology for Medicaid to the state's Medicaid system.

The state solicited bids from 10 contractors for the integrator job, and Deloitte was one of three that submitted a bid.

Testing will begin in mid-August. State officials say the transition will be finished by the next open enrollment in November.

Despite the technology problems, Oregon has enrolled about 315,000 people in coverage through Cover Oregon. Nearly 90,000 of those enrolled in private health plans, while the rest enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, the state's version of Medicaid.

The state enrolled an additional 137,000 people in Medicaid through a fast-track process not connected to the exchange.

A grand jury is investigating Oregon's exchange, as is the federal Government Accountability Office and the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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