Why I was a “NO” vote on SB 1 (end of Cover Oregon)

by Rep. Bill Post

You may have noticed by now that I was one of 14 “NO” votes on Senate Bill 1 (the bill to “end Cover Oregon”). I want to explain why I voted this way. It was not easy because the first and natural inclination was to of course end this debacle but, this was not the easy way out. I did not want this program to go out with a whimper into the night, I wanted it to go out with a dagger to it’s neck.
To start, if I had been in the legislature back in the days that this thing came up, I would have most certainly NEVER voted to launch this disaster. I wasn’t there, so I can’t really address that but I’m here now and I want accountability! I do not want the Democrats (and frankly some Republicans) to let this thing slide under the carpet and magically go away. There are multiple problems with SB 1. The state put us in a bind by going through with Cover Oregon. Many warning signs were ignored along the way and we are now left to pick up the pieces.
1 – “Nature abhors a vacuum”. If you shut this down (though that sounds great on the surface) will it REALLY be shut down, or will it just slide to another government agency? I think the latter (in this case the Department of Consumer and Business Services). Is there ANY state agency in Oregon that has shown it’s ability to handle “IT” issues competently? It also means we are shifting the target from Oregon Health Authority to another agency. How will that even possibly succeed? How can we trust that DCBS has the capability to manage this transition/new program? There seem to still be some unanswered questions, yet we are moving full speed ahead with this new plan.
2 – I believe that this will continue to be a burden upon the taxpayers of Oregon. When Cover Oregon was created it was alleged that the taxpayers would not “foot the bill”. They did, to the tune of $270 million! “Shutting Cover Oregon down” will cost the taxpayers an additional $45 million. This transfer to DCBS is an imperfect solution for a disaster of a program. We need proof that DCBS has a plan to carry out these new duties in the most efficient way possible, we can’t put more tax dollars at risk of being wasted.
3 – This “shutdown” will cost those covered by the plan more money in premiums. Is that how we help folks?
These are the Republicans who voted against this bill saying “NO” to shutting down Cover Oregon and I imagine they voted this way for the same reasons: Barreto, Bentz, Buehler, Hack, Heard, Krieger, Nearman, Parrish, Post, Stark, Weidner, Whisnant, Whitsett, Wilson. I want this monster to go away as much as anyone but this bill was NOT the way to go about it.