Writings and observations

oregon
RANDY STAPILUS / Oregon

The embarrassing decision this week about Cover Oregon – that its website operations in Oregon, under contract through Oracle Corporation, have filed so completely that the state will resort to going online via the federal website – most certainly calls for more answers than have been received so far. Heads have rolled already, and possibly more should as well.

We are after all talking about a couple of hundred million dollars that didn’t deliver what they were supposed to. That’s not a small deal.

But:

The uproar over the website should not obscure the larger picture, which is a lot brighter. The web site had to do with providing one option – not the only option – for people to sign up for health insurance policies. It was never intended as the only route to get that done. The website was not, many reports t the contrary, a complete failure: It did succeed in providing a good deal of information about what policies, at what costs, were available, and helped people locate assistance for finding human help to get covered. Personal testimonial: In our household, it worked in exactly that way. We got online, found relevant information and where to go for help, and got covered in the space of an hour and a half or so.

That one-time transitional element of the health insurance picture is a tiny slice of the overall, which is the expansion of health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who had not had it. That expansion, which is the point of the effort, has in fact happened, delivering results more or less as predicted.

A good deal more reporting attention ought to be focused on how well the new insurance regime is working. Our impression is that for the most part, it’s working not badly, but more inquiry in that area could be useful. Oregon’s health care picture is changing in big ways, and very little of that has much to do with the blinkered website.

Accountability is proper in a case like this. But one relatively small piece of the puzzle shouldn’t be so overwhelmingly preoccupying.

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ridenbaugh Northwest
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The Joint Select Committee on Article IX Litigation today released its plan to meet McCleary v. Washington, the 2012 state Supreme Court decision holding that the state isn’t adequately funding basic education. Below is Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s response to the plan.

In January, the Supreme Court bluntly wrote that the state “cannot realistically claim to have made significant progress” in addressing basic education funding. It ordered the Legislature to produce a complete plan by April 30.

The 58-page document released today says very little, and is far from complete. It isn’t even a plan. It reads like a small history lesson. It includes a list of bills that “are meaningful because they show significant work is occurring.”

The problem is that “none of these bills passed the Legislature.”

The document concludes with the plea that the Court “recognize that 2015 is the next and most critical year for the Legislature to reach the grand agreement needed to meet the state’s Article IX duty by the statutorily scheduled full implementation date of 2018.”

In other words, Wait until tomorrow.

But I have to ask: Will tomorrow ever come?

The Legislature isn’t going to take its responsibility seriously unless the Court forces it to do so.

The 2018 deadline was created and passed by the Legislature. The required education funding levels were adopted by the Legislature.

I urge the Court to do what it can to keep the Legislature’s feet to the fire, and keep the promises they’ve made to our students.

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Reviewing primary for treasurer (Boise Statesman)
Clarkston planning ahead for pot (Lewiston Tribune)
Finance problems in Whitman County (Moscow News)
Moscow may craft new off-leash dog park site (Moscow News)
Candidate forums planned in Canyon (Nampa Press Tribune)
UI worked on managing new gun laws (Nampa Press Tribune)
Idaho cost of living rises toward nation’s (Nampa Press Tribune)
Pocatello groups to oppose LGBT ordinance (Pocatello Journal)
Capital for a Day at Bonners Ferry (Sandpoint Bee)
2nd district candidates battle on earmarks (TF Times News)

Lane Community College may raise tuition (Eugene Register Guard)
Heat wave in Western Oregon (Eugene Register Guard, Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Voting registration period ends (KF Herald & News)
Henley Elementary ground breaks Friday (KF Herald & News)
Frogs and cattle grazing working together (KF Herald & News)
Jackson County commission races reviewed (Ashland Tidings)
Heavy road work coming at Phoenix (Medford Tribune)
Kitzhaber opposes coal exports from NW (Pendleton East Oregognian)
Hermiston preps for full-day kindergarten (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Coach Ramsay dies (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)
Seeking more catchable fish from hatcheries (Portland Oregonian)
Landslide closes Silver Falls trail (Salem Statesman Journal)

Hot weather in western WA (Everett Herald, Longview News)
Ferry fees rising again (Everett Herald)
Scaling down mudslide efforts (Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald, Yakima Herald Republic, Longview News)
Stress found in common core testing (Kennewick Herald)
Cowlitz housing cuts payments for disabled (Longview News)
Seqium moves its transit hub (Port Angeles News)
Looking ahead to cruise ship stops at PA (Port Angeles News)
Seattle considers tax for city parks (Seattle Times)
‘Brenda’ back to work on tunneling (Seattle Times)
Spokane plans re-fo tax ballot issue (Spokane Spokesman)
Idaho health exchange draws way past target (Spokane Spokesman)
Blazers coach Ramsay dies (Vancouver Columbian)
New I-5 bridge coalition forming (Vancouver Columbian)
Union Gap rejects pot businesses (Yakima Herald Republic)

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