Members of the 10-member joint committee ironed out the finer details of a bill that would dissolve Cover Oregon and transfer its functions under a state agency Wednesday evening, as they seek more accountability and authority over the state health insurance exchange.

The committee had had a head start on the bill since the last interim legislative days, and members expect it to move to the Senate floor as soon as Monday, when the fiscal impact statement is submitted.

The big-picture plan is for Cover Oregon’s duties to be moved under the Department of Consumer and Business Services, however, lawmakers and stakeholders have had to figure out exactly how the transfer and the exchange’s ongoing operations should look.

A key concern for lawmakers was that Oregon would be protected from potential consequences of a Supreme Court ruling that could strip states that use federally facilitated marketplaces of tax credits.

While Oregon uses the federal portal, healthcare.gov, for health insurance enrollments since its own technology never launched properly, officials have maintained that Oregon is still technically a state-based exchange.

Some of the language that has been added to the draft bill, which will soon be Senate Bill 1, reiterates that position.

“There are six changes in the bill that are at the recommendation of the department of justice that makes it clear that this is a state-based exchange,” said Patrick Allen, director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “Our position is that this is state-based exchange. It will continue to be a state-based exchange.”

Allen quantified the stakes and told the committee that Cover Oregon in the past year has issued $116 million in tax credits to Oregon health insurance consumers. It’s projected that by 2019, $988 million in tax credits could be issued to Oregon consumers.

Tax credits, provided under the Affordable Care Act, are designed to alleviate the cost of health insurance premiums for income-eligible people.

The next development expected in Cover Oregon’s abolition is the fiscal impact statement, which is planned for submission on Monday.

Allen said that the budget should cover ongoing operations, which he said would require 15 full-time employees, information technology transfer work by about six temporary workers and a service center that he expects to scale down once tax season is over.

A public hearing on this bill is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at Hearing Room F of Oregon State Capitol.

syoo@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6673 or follow at Twitter.com/syoo.

What’s next

The Joint Health Insurance Transition Committee will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 1 at 5:30 p.m. Monday in Hearing Room F of the Oregon State Capitol.

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