Cover Oregon application deadline is Wednesday

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The deadline to apply for insurance through Cover Oregon is here.

And with the deadline looming, callers to Cover Oregon today have swamped its call center.

Spokesman Michael Cox says, on average, the center has about 175 to 200 callers in the queue who are waiting to speak to a customer service representative. He says the longest wait is over an hour, and if people can't get through, they should call back.

He says the call center is fully staffed and all lines are working.

Cover Oregon says if you want your coverage to start on Jan. 1, you have to submit your application online, postmark it, or fax it by December 4th. But it's still not clear if everyone will actually have coverage by then.

Governor John Kitzhaber told us a couple weeks ago he can't guarantee it. Just a month ago he hired hundreds of people to process those applications by hand. The website's had problems since day one. You still can't enroll online. You can only submit an application.

"I think there's a serious question of accountability that we do have to address," Kitzhaber told us.

The governor, himself a former emergency room doctor, is taking much of the blame. He's hired two more people to oversee and resuscitate Cover Oregon. But the state admits the website won't be ready until the day after the Dec. 15 deadline for people to get in on the first round of insurance coverage.

Tuesday we learned Cover Oregon has enrolled 219 people for private insurance, and more than 3,200 for medicaid plans. It's received about 54,000 applications so far.

We also learned the Cover Oregon board approved director Rocky King's medical leave. His decision to go on leave came just as we learned the board was considering a vote of "no confidence" against him.