On a party-line vote Wednesday, Oregon House Democrats on the Health Care Committee killed a series of amendments that Republicans said would reform Cover Oregon and improve oversight.
Amendments proposed to HB 4154 by House Republicans and killed by House Democrats included:
- Allowing Secretary of State Kate Brown to expedite an audit of Cover Oregon;
- Allowing Oregonians to receive federal subsidies when purchasing insurance outside the exchange and directly from insurance providers;
- Requiring legislators to select their health plan via Cover Oregon; and
- Mandating that all findings from any independent review be made public.
"By voting to kill these common-sense reforms, House Democrats have confirmed that they don't really want answers on the Cover Oregon failure, they want political cover," said Rep. Mike McLane (R - Powell Butte) the House Republican leader.
"It is unacceptable for us to continue to waste money on a system that is broken," said Rep. Jason Conger (R - Bend), a member of the House Health Care Committee. "I have little faith that those responsible for Cover Oregon's failures will be able to fix it. It is time for other solutions."
As KATU-TV reported, under current law, the secretary of state cannot start an audit of Cover Oregon until one year after the October 1, 2013 launch. The amendment killed by House Democrats would have allowed her to begin immediately.
Further, currently Oregonians are required to buy insurance through Cover Oregon in order to be eligible for federal subsidies. The amendment killed by House Democrats would have had Oregon seek a waiver from the federal government in order to allow subsidies for those purchasing directly from an insurance provider.
Next, House Republicans were requesting that all members of the Oregon Legislature be required to select their health care plan through Cover Oregon. This was killed by House Democrats.
Finally, House Republicans said they are concerned with the potential redacting of findings from the independent review commissioned by Governor Kitzhaber. Their amendment would have required all findings to be made public. House Democrats killed this amendment as well.