Maryland’s Health Exchange.

MD-Exchange-Trash-Can-ROHWhat if you were to spend $125.5 million dollars on something like a website and get nothing in return?

Residents of the state of Maryland are facing that exact question.

To put it mildly, Maryland’s Health Care exchange site has be plagued with issues since it first came online.

The site has never worked correctly losing data, enrollments, and having security issues. Contractors feuded and fought while the site continued to fail.

On March 9, 2014, the Federal government said it would step in and conduct an audit of the site’s failure.

The probe, which Harris said would likely begin in a matter of weeks, is the first of its kind to be revealed publicly. It comes days after the U.S. Government Accountability Office said it would review the formation of state-based insurance exchanges — though experts say an inspector general’s examination is usually more exhaustive and specific.

State legislators also are scrutinizing problems with Maryland’s online exchange, which crashed on its first day last fall and has had continued problems, including feuding contractors and major software issues. The state review is not expected to be completed until mid-2015 — well after this year’s gubernatorial primary and general election.

The date of the completion is significant as the person responsible for the website roll out is Anthony Brown.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, the state’s point man on the health law’s implementation, is a leading Democratic candidate for governor this year. He has been criticized on the issue by Republican state lawmakers as well as by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, one of his rivals for the party nomination.

Separately, state lawmakers in Annapolis have ordered legislative auditors to review documents that show what was happening behind the scenes in the weeks and months before the site launched.

The joint oversight committee has asked legislative auditors to do a “performance review” of the exchange, an inquiry that would not begin until this summer. Auditors were already scheduled to begin a more narrow inquiry into the finances of the exchange.

Maryland was one of 14 states that chose to build its own health insurance exchange rather than rely on a web portal created by the federal government. Most of those states had their sites in shape by January, though Oregon, Minnesota and Massachusetts continue to experience problems.

Brown wants the audit to be completed after the election because the failure of the site and the implementation of the site would have disastrous consequences for him in the election. For Brown, it isn’t about getting the site right or being accountable, it is about being elected to a higher office.

It now appears that Maryland will walk away from the site and install a new site.

Maryland officials are set to replace the state’s online health-insurance exchange with technology from Connecticut’s insurance marketplace, according to two people familiar with the decision, an acknowledgment that a system that has cost at least $125.5 million is broken beyond repair.

The board of the Maryland exchange plans to vote on the change Tuesday, the day after the end of the first enrollment period for the state’s residents under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The only thing that will be salvaged from the existing site is the hardware – the computer servers. Everything else will be trashed and scrapped.

No matter how you look at it, a good chunk of that $125.5 million went down the drain and will not be recovered.

As a flurry of consumers signed up for health insurance Saturday during an enrollment fair, Gov. Martin O’Malley said that he expected the next enrollment period to run more smoothly on a new platform built by Deloitte Consulting LLC, replacing the troubled existing website.

The exchange board has not made a final decision, but O’Malley said the “Deloitte platform” used in Connecticut, Kentucky and elsewhere has been among the best performers in states that are running their own exchanges. He said he regrets that Maryland did not go with Deloitte from the start, though the company did not bid on the work.

O’Malley “regrets” the state did not go with a vendor that did not bid on the work?

The state of Maryland has a lot of issues. Failing schools in Baltimore are a prime concern. High crime in the state is another concern. Jobless rates absent those tied to the Federal government is extremely high. Maryland continues to look to raising taxes which is driving businesses away.

The bottom line is that the state had a lot of needs that could have been addressed by the $125.5 million but much of that money is now gone forever. The new site will cost the taxpayers more because the government can only tax to get money.

More money from the people at the point of the government sword.

Yet we suspect that the State of Maryland and its officials will rejoice when the new site is up and hope the people will forget the money wasted.

Why do we expect this?

With the deepening economic crisis in Maryland, Governor O’Malley decided to advance a plan that would increase tax revenues in the state. His plan? Allow slot machines in the state.

We kid you not.

Instead of working with businesses to improve the growth of the state, O’Malley proposed that the state allow stores, bars, etc., to install slot machines. A sane person would see that slot machines don’t produce anything (except for the cost of the machines which were made out of state.) The machines are more often used by the poor and disadvantaged who can least afford to play them which hurts the poor even more and places further demands on government programs to help the poor.

But the state got tax revenues and that is all that matters to the people in Annapolis.

That money then went to companies who botched the Health Care Exchange website because….. well, ….. no one is quite sure why.

If the government were a business, an audit on why $125.5 million dollars went down the tubes would happen and be finished a lot faster. But politicians don’t want speed and accountability on anything it seems. The longer the process can drag out, the more people will forget it.

One hundred and twenty five point five million dollars gone.


Comments are closed.