Health Insurance

Oregon senator enrolled in low-income Medicaid

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

Jeff Merkley, a U.S. senator from Oregon, was improperly enrolled into Oregon Health Plan, a low-income Medicaid, by Cover Oregon. This is yet another glitch that has occurred within the health insurance exchange since its inception.

According to The Oregonian, Oregon Health Plan assists families of four with incomes of $31,721 or below. Merkley makes $174,000 a year, not counting his wife's salary.

Merkley rebuffed the $900 subsidy offered to members of Congress so that he could enroll with Cover Oregon. "I wanted to have the same experience that Oregonians were having, to see what this was about," he said.

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The senator's experience with the health exchange was riddled with hiccups. One of which occured in the second-stage application when the system placed his ZIP code into the section for the number people in his family. "I could have single-handedly increased the sign-ups for Oregon health care by 100,000 people," Merkley noted.

The tenacity of participants was not lost on Merkley, who called the sign up a "Gauntlet."

"It's amazing how many families went through this," he said. "They were locked out of the health-care system, and having access to affordable health care was so fundamental to their quality of life that they pursued it through all these frustrations."