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Feds Set to Take Over Oregon's Hopeless Health Insurance Exchange

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The Obama administration is reportedly set to take over Oregon's dysfunctional health insurance exchange, according to the Washington Post, after federal officials determined it's too broken for the state to repair.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber speaks during the first meeting of a new task force he created to look into the possibility of legislation on genetically modified foods in Portland, Ore., Thursday, April 10, 2014. (AP/Don Ryan)

While many states have had trouble with their own insurance marketplace, Cover Oregon is the only exchange that has failed to sign a single person up.

The Cover Oregon board will vote Friday whether to join the federal insurance marketplace, which the administration has heralded for signing up more than 8 million people. But the Post reported that behind the scenes, the decision has already been made: officials from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Oregon officials they did not believe the state was able to fix its system.

The state's residents have had to use paper applications, and fewer than 64,000 have enrolled in a private plan.

Maryland is also experiencing severe difficulties with its exchange and is seeking federal assistance for a technology overhaul. Massachusetts has also had technical problems in aligning with the federal system; exchanges in Hawaii and Minnesota have also had rocky starts.

Only 14 states and the District of Columbia have their own exchanges. The rest of the states rely on the federal exchange through healthcare.gov since enrollment began in October 2013.

A consultant's analysis concluded it would cost $4 million to $6 million to move Oregon's health insurance program to the federal marketplace – a tiny fraction of the estimated cost for fixing the state system.

Hoever, Cover Oregon spokeswoman Ariane Holm told the Post the decision is not a sure thing.

“The Cover Oregon board is the only group with authority to make decisions about next steps,” Holm said.

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