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.