"I am certainly willing to be held accountable for the fact that everybody who wanted coverage by Jan. 1 is not going to get it." Those words from Gov. John Kitzhaber were spoken Tuesday after the state finally admitted that some people would have no health insurance through Cover Oregon on Jan. 1 even though they've done everything they were asked to do, met every deadline.
We're not quite sure what the governor means by being "accountable," but there's now no doubt that the state is leaving responsible citizens in the lurch. Their policies were canceled, and they've been unable to use the new system to buy replacement coverage at any price.
Bruce Goldberg, acting head of Cover Oregon, Tuesday advised those who don't get enrollment packets from the state this week to go buy insurance directly from an insurance carrier. It's a process bound to be confusing. It's being forced on people who, through no fault of their own, lost coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.
As of Tuesday, 65,000 people had met a Dec. 4 deadline to send applications to Cover Oregon, but only 28,000 of those had been processed with enrollment packages mailed back. Once the package arrives, the person has until Dec. 15 to pick an insurance plan and send in their choice. Even those lucky enough to receive that packet and meet the Dec. 15 deadline must have doubts about their success, given the multitude of missed deadlines and excuses so far. And for the thousands who don't get that packet in time, the advice is to go buy something on the private market with no idea if/when the promised subsidy will apply.
How much worse can it get? The government has taken away health insurance that worked, strung people along through a series of broken promises about when and how Cover Oregon would work, and now leaves them out in the cold. Go handle it yourself in the private sector, Goldberg said.
If being "held accountable" means anything, the state must find a way to protect the thousands of people who've tried mightily to get with the program and are left adrift.