HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut's health care exchange announced Monday it has selected a Virginia company with a troubled history in the state to run a new center to help consumers enroll in a health insurance plan beginning later this year.
The exchange, known as Access Health CT, said Maximus Inc. has been awarded a three-year contract, starting March 1.
"The decision to purchase insurance is an important one, especially for those who have not had insurance in the past, and we want to make sure our customer service center representatives are sensitive to this," Kevin Counihan, Access Health CT's CEO, said in a statement. He said the fact that Maximus is working with several other states, including New York, on health care exchange matters "is a big advantage."
In 2007, then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sued Maximus for breach of contract. He said the company failed to provide the state with a functioning computer system used by law enforcement to access criminal justice information and conduct immediate background checks. During the system's testing period, state officials found 821 bugs and Blumenthal said Maximus failed to fix nearly half of them.
By 2010, the state reached a $2.5 million settlement with Maximus and a subcontractor, resolving the dispute involving the computer system upgrade work.
Records show the state continues to have a contract with Maximus related to the upgrade. The McLean, Va.-based company was originally hired for the project in 2002. A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office said Connecticut has no pending litigation against Maximus.
In 1997, Maximus came under fire for how it managed a Department of Social Services program that reimbursed working welfare parents for their child care costs. After the state and Maximus underestimated the volume of calls and number of applications the company would have to handle, some recipients stopped receiving checks. Their paperwork got lost and phone calls went unanswered as the company struggled to deal with the deluge of requests.
The state threatened to fire Maximus unless the company's performance improved. Eventually, Maximus hired more people and negotiated a new contract with the state in which it received 50 percent more per client.
Messages left Monday seeking comment with Maximus about the company's latest contract with the state were not immediately returned.
Access Health CT said Maximus was awarded the business "after a comprehensive and very competitive request for proposal process that began in October 2012."