Md. Votes To Adopt Health Exchange Software Used In Connecticut
|By Andrea K. Walker, Meredith Cohn and Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The software is free for
The move comes a day after open enrollment under the federal Affordable Care Act ended Monday, when consumers still were having trouble with the glitch-prone website.
"Our launch did not go as we had planned, our launch failed," Gov.
The Democratic governor also blamed
"In brief, the state's enrollment goal was reached despite its own failures of leadership," said
<p> While state officials hope the new system will be in place for the next open enrollment period that begins in November, critics said the project has been mismanaged and raised questions about the cost to move to another site.
The state has spent tens of millions of dollars on the existing site and now plans to ask the federal government for more money and its blessing to develop the new website. The exchange also might need up to
Some questioned whether a new system would even work.
"The board was right to stop throwing away even more taxpayer dollars on a system that does not work," said Rep.
"Regrettably, as opposed to joining the federal exchange, going with the
Even Democrats who were strong supporters of the Affordable Care Act chaffed at the way the system was set up.
"The rollout of this leaves a lot to be desired," he said. "You can blame it on the contractor, blame it on the subcontractor, but the buck stops with state government. And it hasn't been done properly. State money has not been used wisely, and we need to move forward as expeditiously as possible in getting this right."
Exchange officials had considered moving to the federal portal or fixing the current site.
But fixing the current site would have cost
The website crashed immediately after launching Oct.1 and has been riddled with technical problems ever since. The exchange's executive director resigned under pressure, and officials later fired the website's main contractor,
The state has spent
Noridian had used
"We would like to be sitting here and saying 'Wow,
Noridian has said it also complied with contractual obligations despite constant changes by the state.
Exchange officials have kept the system running through triage fixes and will continue to do so for several weeks as workers enroll thousands of people who could not use the website or get through to the call center before the Monday deadline.
Those without coverage will be fined under the law. State officials agreed not to penalize those whose applications were stuck in the system and those who attest to the fact that they couldn't log on or reach the call center, where all circuits were busy Monday.
Despite the technical problems, state officials say they had a successful enrollment period and that thousands of Marylanders who didn't have coverage can now see a doctor.
As of Monday, 293,000 people had enrolled for coverage, including 63,000 in private plans. The state could surpass 300,000 after those stalled by technical problems have enrolled, Sharfstein said. Others, who didn't need subsidies, applied directly with insurers and could add to the total.
"We closed really strong ... in the face of some very significant IT challenges," Sharfstein said during the meeting.
Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield, the largest insurers, told exchange officials it enrolled as many people directly as the number who enrolled with the insurer on the exchange.
A consultant with
"Deloitte had a pragmatic and reasonable approach to what could be achieved by [the launch]," said
That state had such success that officials began marketing its services to other states and has been contacted by more than a half dozen. Counihan expects to work with another state or two over the next two enrollment periods. He said
Sharfstein said Tuesday after the vote that
Despite the troubles in
People are now getting better care and the organization can focus more of its efforts and dollars on finding people homes, said
"This picture is only going to improve as we keep doing our work," Lindamood said.
"When I got that card in the mail, I was grinning up a storm," Willis said.
Health care advocates said they were confident the state would resolve the problems with the website, which they believed would boost enrollment even further during the next period.
"The concern we have is there should be some kind of reimbursement to those small carriers who have to reconfigure to a whole new system because of no fault of their own," he said.
The exchange's failure has become a potential political liability for both O'Malley, who has presented himself as a technologically-savvy leader as he contemplates a bid for the
Both Republican and Democratic candidates for governor have attacked Brown for the site's failure. Brown, the administration's point man on health care reform, also blamed the contractors for the exchange debacle, saying "our vendors failed to deliver as promised."
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