Oregon's most senior lawmaker, Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem), who first won election to the Legislature in 1980, usually gets what he wants, especially with Democrats in control of both legislative chambers and the governor's office.
Today, Courtney said he wants Cover Oregon, the state's scandal-plagued health insurance exchange, to disappear, and he will introduce legislation next year to make that happen.
Courtney spoke out after the board of Cover Oregon met this week and made no decision about whether it would continue to exist after earlier ceding the responsibility for operating an online health insurance exchange to the federal government. Cover Oregon spent $250 million in a failed attempt to build an Oregon-based exchange.
Lawmakers voted to create Cover Oregon in 2011, establishing it as a public corporation that was exempt from state contracting laws and other forms of oversight to which state agencies are subject.
The Oregon Department of Justice is engaged in what promises to be very expensive and perhaps mutually embarrassing litigation with Oracle Corp., Cover Oregon's primary contractor. Today, The Oregonian reported that clerical screw-ups at Cover Oregon could cause thousands of people with new coverage to owe additional money at tax time. That was the final straw for Courtney.
Here's the statement he issued this afternoon:
âEnough is enough. Oregonians deserve better than Cover Oregon has delivered,â said Courtney in a statement. "The Legislature is accountable to Oregon and her people. Cover Oregon isn't and therefore must be abolished."