WASHINGTON — Oregon will shut down its health insurance exchange, which federal taxpayers spent $303 million to build, becoming the first state to abandon its marketplace and shift its customers to the U.S. exchange.

Directors for the exchange, Cover Oregon, Friday accepted a recommendation from an advisory panel that the state join the federal Obamacare site, healthcare.gov, the Associated Press reported. Cover Oregon’s website never recovered from early technology flaws, forcing thousands of consumers to apply for health plans using paper applications.

Once viewed as a trailblazer for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, Oregon was one of the first states awarded U.S. grants to build an insurance exchange. Cover Oregon’s failure has spurred blame-trading between the state government and the project’s main contractor, Oracle Corp., the biggest maker of database software, and imperils the re-election of Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat.

An advisory panel Thursday recommended the state abandon plans to fix its website or buy technology from another state with a functional marketplace, such as Connecticut. Joining the federal exchange will cost $4 million to $6 million, the panel said in a report, while fixing Cover Oregon’s site may cost $78 million.

Maryland, whose Health Benefit Exchange also suffered catastrophic computer errors, wants to spend about $45 million to purchase Connecticut’s technology, built by Deloitte. 

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.