Oregon Dissolves Its Disastrous ObamaCare Exchange

AP Photo/LM Otero
AP Photo/LM Otero

The L.A.Times pronounces last rites for Oregon’s notorious ObamaCare exchange, whose epitaph was a bloodless Friday Tweet from new Governor Kate Brown: “This afternoon I signed Senate Bill 1 into law.”

Cover Oregon was plagued by problems almost from its onset. No Oregonian was ever able to enroll online in a private plan under the Affordable Care Act because the state exchange never had a functioning website, forcing insurance seekers to file paper applications.

In April, state officials voted unanimously to switch over to the federal health insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov., citing the high cost of trying to fix the problematic state marketplace. The Oregon exchange had cost the state $248 million.

Additional controversy erupted in August when Oracle Corp., which was hired to create the exchange, sued the state agency in charge. The company alleged a breach of contract and accused then-Gov. John Kitzhaber of attempting to “vilify the company in the media.”

The state responded with a lawsuit of its own, accusing the Redwood City, Calif., company of lying to Oregon officials, failing to deliver on contracts and filing about $240 million in false claims.

The legal battle has not yet reached court.

Another triumph for the People’s Glorious Socialist Health Care Plan! The people of Oregon were soaked to the tune of $250 million on this boondoggle under previous governor John Kitzhaber, whose cronyism finally caught up to him last month. Now they’ll get thrown into the federal exchange, just in time for the Supreme Court to rule that the corrupt Democrats who shoved ObamaCare down our throats in a blind power grab forgot to remove the language that said only state exchanges can distribute subsidies.

Or, depending on how cynical your view of the Affordable Care Act disaster is, they left the language intact just in case they needed it to bludgeon a few reluctant state governments into compliance, not realizing that the majority of states would refuse to create exchanges. I wouldn’t bet against that being the ultimate, farcical outcome of the Supreme Court challenge to federal subsidies: the nasty little subsidy trap built by ObamaCare’s dishonest creators might end up working precisely as they intended, muscling all those reluctant state governments into setting up their own exchanges, because their constituents can no longer afford health insurance without subsidies. In that case, Oregon will get to enjoy writing off all the money wasted on Cover Oregon and starting from scratch.

Some breezy assurances were given to Oregonians back when they were forced to abandon Kithzaber’s useless system for the federal HealthCareDotGov exchange that they wouldn’t be affected by the pending Supreme Court decision. Because the state bureaucracy existed, even though it couldn’t produce a functioning website after spending a quarter of a billion dollars, the first wave of frustrated customers sent to the federal exchange would theoretically be counted as state exchange customers.

That theory might not hold up, if we haven’t complete our journey into lawless post-constitutional dictatorship yet, and the courts decide that our Ruling Class is bound by the letter of the laws it passes, just like the rest of us. And even if the early customers are “grandfathered” into subsidies, it would be difficult to make the case that new customers are entitled to receive them, now that Cover Oregon is officially kaput.

It remains to be seen if Oregonians sorely in need of a lesson about Big Government corruption will learn from the fate of their health care exchange. It takes more than a few multi-million dollar thrashings to sour obedient Democrat voters on their party overlords. There are already efforts under way nationwide to make Democrat zombies blame Republicans for the impending fall of the federal exchange subsidies, because those big meanies won’t just let our wise and loving rulers interpret the law any way they please, changing the interpretation each day as political necessities warrant. If the subsidies go down, it will be because penny-pinching Republicans who just want sick people to die snatched them from the hands of the deserving poor, and the “middle class” Democrats have successfully taught to think of themselves as poor and helpless.

It would be a hideous mistake for the American people to swallow that spin.

ObamaCare is failing in exactly the ways its critics predicted, for the very same reasons they cited. Its failure illustrates the staggering incompetence and corruption of both state and federal government bodies. You can’t have big, maternal government and the rule of law – they are mutually exclusive.

The power necessary to control people “for their own good” cannot be amassed by the Ruling Class if they’re restrained by the kind of faithful adherence to statutes and regulations that they demand from the rest of us. ObamaCare’s defenders, especially President Obama, are explicitly telling us they can only keep this scheme running if they’re given power beyond the law, and gobs of money beyond what they originally told us they needed.

The demise of Cover Oregon is a sobering lesson in allowing statists to seize power with a bunch of big promises and phony cost projections. When those promises are not kept, there are no refunds of tax money squandered, you don’t get your liberty back, you’ll be told real and effective reforms are impossible because the failed system built by statists cannot be dismantled, and accountability for the politicians who defrauded you is spotty at best. It’s not even easy to get them to admit they did anything wrong. You’re lucky if you get a Tweet to announce the miserable end of the claptrap they savaged their opponents for accurately criticizing.


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