Skip to comments.Great moments in state exchange success: Maryland fires its contractor
Posted on 02/24/2014 7:47:30 PM PST by SeekAndFind
Its going to be smoother in places like Maryland where governors are working to implement it rather than fight it. (Applause.) President Barack Obama, Sept. 26, 2013
Five months in, Maryland’s state exchange is still barely limping along. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who headed up the exchange build, has no apologies. The exchange director resigned after she went on a Cayman vacation while the site was imploding. The situation is bad enough that this essentially one-party state has devolved into a fight over whether they should abandon their $100 million dysfunctional site for the federal site, and Democrats running for governor are whacking each other with its failure.
Now, another contractor bites the dust:
Maryland has fired the contractor that built its expensive online health insurance marketplace, which has so many structural defects that officials say the state might have to abandon all or parts of the system.
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange voted late Sunday to terminate its $193 million contract with Noridian Healthcare Solutions. Columbia-based Optum/QSSI, which the state hired in December to help repair the flawed exchange, will become the prime contractor, while Noridian will assist with the transition.
We worked very hard with [Noridian] to find a path forward, said Isabel FitzGerald, the Cabinet secretary in charge of information technology. And the decision now is that we are just not making the progress that we had hoped.
Maryland was one of 14 states that chose to build their own health-insurance marketplace to implement President Obamas Affordable Care Act, which politicians and residents in the state strongly support. Gov. Martin OMalley (D) boasted that the marketplace and the Web site Marylanders would use to access it would be among the best in the country.
But the site failed within minutes of its Oct. 1 launch, blocking residents who were trying to get health insurance. The system has limped along since then. Ultimately, state officials say, they may have to rely at least partially on the federal health-care Web site or on sites operated by other states.
As of Monday, Maryland had paid Noridian $67.9 million for its work and had unpaid invoices totaling $12.9 million, state health officials said.
Predictably, state officials are blaming the contractor and the contractor is blaming the state’s unrealistic desire for a quick turnaround and frequent changes:
McGraw said his company met its contractual obligations under tremendous pressure and constant changes by the state, which amounted to hundreds of adjustments and fixes.
In attending Maryland’s Health Exchange meetings over several years, I can confirm that they did keep adding capabilities to the technologists’ plate, sunnily predicting an exchange to beat all other state exchanges with seemingly very little knowledge of what was necessary to make the project happen. I cannot emphasize enough that Maryland was supposed to among the best prepared states in the country for this boondoggle. They were foiled by their own ambitions, their lack of understanding of the magnitude of this tech undertaking, a system without anyone accountable for its success, and the federal government’s withholding important information until after President Obama was reelected, which compounded all of the above problems by making the timeline even shorter than it already was.
I'll bet that fewer than 1 in 10,000 Marylanders can tell you the name of the Lt. Gov.
This is -- maybe -- the 2nd time I can remember his name deliberately being put forth. The other time was O'Malley's election, and then, Brown's name only came up when preceded by the word "African-American." Gee, no coinkydink there, huh, Gov. O'Malley (oops, or should I say, future 2016 Dem prez candidate).
Good thing O Malley raised so many of our taxes to pay for this.
I heard on a Baltimore radio newscast today that Maryland did not meet its goal of enrolling 260,000 by now because that goal was based in faulty data. The goal should have been 160,000. Therefore the goal has been met as more than 160,000 have already enrolled. Dems just make it up as they go along. O’Malley will probably brag about exceeding the goal from now on. All day I waited for this to be part of the story about firing the person in charge but did not hear it. Perhaps the fired person was the one who figured out the faulty goal or at least might be blamed for it. . Having the media in your pocket sure helps those who attempt to deceive (liars).
What difference does it make at this point? All the graft has already been paid.
This is the crux of the problem; it is the same problem why the national system failed, too.
I think the reason for these State and Federal health exchange failures is they are like the hub of a wagon wheel. Spokes radiate out to the IRS, to numerous insurers and HMOs, to Medicare to various state agencies.... That were are all supposed to accurately and efficiently communicate with the hub exchanges so that a consumer on the exchange website can get quick accurate answers as he looks though his (her) health options under KenyanKare
IMO all of the above entities are using different computer systems and it is nearly impossible to get them to communicate properly with the health exchange hub. Many levels of Gov’t have hellish legacy systems that only work within a particular agency. Insurers have better systems but are still limited in communicating with the bub
Oh, I certainly agree with you on the data exchange thing. But in the formulation of all this - the overarching goals and directives by government management of all this - they assumed that all that would be seamless.
The fundamental problem was arrogant government dogma over the practicalities of execution. IOW, all those little problems couldn’t be fixed by ‘decree.’
As in “The health exchanges hereby decree there shall be seamless integration with the insurers, HMOs, lazy Gov’t agencies with funky computer systems etc”
It gets worse. The three Mikes, Mike Miller - Senate Prez, Mike Bush - House Speaker, and Mike Middleton - Senate Finance Chair, have circled the wagons and refused to allow hearings on the matter.
Maryland "Freak State" PING!
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