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Feds to Investigate Maryland Health Care Exchange Problems

The inspector general is going to investigate the troubled launch of Maryland's health care exchange. Officials fired the site's originator last month.

The inspector general is going to investigate the troubled launch of Maryland's health care exchange. File|Patch
The inspector general is going to investigate the troubled launch of Maryland's health care exchange. File|Patch

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to investigate Maryland’s troubled health care exchange, a congressman said Monday.

Rep. Andy Harris, who called for the investigation and was an anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital for 30 years, said the Maryland health exchange had one of the worst exchange rollouts in the country, reports WJZ TV.

“Maryland officials ignored early warning signs and chose to waste and abuse federal taxpayer money by opening up what they knew was a flawed exchange to the public,” Harris said in a statement.

The lead contractor for Maryland’s health exchange website – which has been paid nearly $70 million – was fired in February. Noridian Healthcare Solutions launched the online portal, known as Maryland Health Connection, which crashed Oct. 1 when it opened, and widespread problems and glitches persist to this day.

Replacing Noridian Healthcare Solutions is Optum/QSSI, a subsidiary of United Health Group, which also sells insurance on the exchange. Columbia-based Optum/QSSI was also hired by the federal government in October to fix its malfunctioning healthcare.gov website, according to an earlier Patch story.

Noridian has been paid $67.9 million for the development of the website, reports the Baltimore Business Journal. Most of the money has come from federal grants, along with some state funding.

Maryland is one of 14 states that have built their own health exchanges. So far, the state says 38,070 have enrolled in private health plans as of March 1.

Maryland officials have decided to stick with the exchange through the open enrollment period that ends March 31. The state is evaluating alternatives for the next enrollment period that begins in November. Options include adopting technology developed by another state, joining a consortium of other states, partnering with the federal exchange or making major fixes to overhaul Maryland’s system, WJZ says.

Bob Higginbotham March 11, 2014 at 10:44 AM
So the citizens of Maryland have seen over $200 million of their money wasted with more to come. This is all due to the incompetence and laissez-faire attitudes of O'Malley, Brown and the rest of the democrat administers of the program. It is unfortunate that the IG will take so long to prove the obvious mismanagement. Even the low numbers thrown at us are suspect.
Peter Parker March 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM
MD state administration keep on firing primary or secondary contracting companies. After that underlying problem still exists. Company after company what does that tell us? Is contracting companies is a problem? Probably not. Why can't state "let it go" underlying eligibility software used? Big software giant make this software and they do not have any successful implementation of it. All state used are failure and our neighbor (Canada) is struggling from last 4 years to make it work. Why MD state didn't do thorough due diligence of this software before buying it? Common man does reference check before hiring "handy man". In this case state had spent millions of dollars on software which claimed to be work well some where in Europe. It seems some type of conspiracy from beginning of initiative. This should be definitely investigated. If MD state is victim of "Lemon Law". why they have not taken any action so far? They should fire software vendor causing so much pain to them.
Buzz Beeler March 11, 2014 at 01:39 PM
Well, it's all over FOX News that Harris has requested a federal investigation into the matter; ya think! This may come back to haunt Brown and Gansler as well. Actually I love watching he Democrats walk the plank.

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