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Oregon Panel Recommends Moving To Federal Exchange

The technology committee of Cover Oregon has recommended ditching its website and signing up with the federal exchange.

Oregon got more than $300 million from the feds to set up a state-of-the-art website to enroll people in health insurance.

About $250 million has already been spent and Cover Oregon thinks it may cost another $78 million to fix the current website that has never been fully functional.

Signing up with the federal website is only about $5 million and the site is already working. But the change carries risks. For example, everybody might have to sign up again?

Clyde Hamstreet is Cover Oregon's new temporary chief. He says November is when the enrollment window opens again, and the system must be working. The Cover Oregon board is expected to vote Friday on whether to switch to the federal website. "Let me say this, nobody has to re-enroll now. What we have to do in November, we've got to work out yet," he said.

A top Cover Oregon official, Alex Pettit, said Thursday that fixing the existing system would be too costly at $78 million, would take too long, and would be too risky. He says switching to the federal system would cost $4 million to $6 million.

Oregon would continue using its current technology for Medicaid enrollments, but not for people who are buying private policies.

The recommendation comes more than six months after Oregon's online site was supposed to go live.

The full Cover Oregon board takes up the recommendation Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 Oregon Public Broadcasting