State board votes to scrap health insurance software -- Gazette.Net



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The state board overseeing Maryland’s troubled health exchange voted Tuesday to implement software developed by Deloitte Consulting used in Connecticut to attempt to fix problems officials say were caused by the original contractor.

Connecticut’s system has had fewer problems than Maryland, where users have complained of not being able to sign up for insurance and other issues. Maryland terminated its lead technology contractor for the exchange, Fargo, N.D.-based Noridian Healthcare Solutions, in February, and Columbia-based Optum/QSSI took over on an interim basis.

About 63,000 Maryland residents had signed up for private health plans through the exchange as of Monday, the deadline for individuals to purchase insurance for this year. That was below the original goal of 150,000 for private insurance — although the goal was later changed to 260,000, including those who signed up for Medicaid.

About 230,000 Maryland residents signed up for Medicaid.

Like the federal system, people who started the process of signing up by Monday can still get coverage.

Sign-up for small employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees started Tuesday and runs through October. Employers with 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees also may be eligible for a tax credit.

Rep. John Delaney (D-Dist. 6) of Potomac, who has advocated that the state switch to the federal system for months, said in a statement that it was “unfortunate” that officials did not change courses sooner.

“I believe that the delay and the rejection of other options had a tangible impact in leading to low enrollment numbers,” he said.

Delaney said he remains a “strong supporter” of the federal Affordable Care Act, including the controversial individual mandate, “because this law is designed to expand health care coverage and lower overall costs. We have to get the execution right, however, to garner the benefits.”

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to review Maryland’s exchange, according to Rep. Andy Harris (R-Dist. 1) of Cockeysville.

Numerous states — including Virginia, Delaware and North Carolina, which are using the federal system — met their original target enrollment. Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and California, which have their own systems, also have met their original goals.

Maryland is one of 14 states, along with Washington, D.C., operating their own exchanges.

This week, Attorney General Douglas Gansler, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, unveiled some proposals to help get more Maryland residents insured. Among those was doing more outreach in Latino communities, such as opening storefronts, and partnering with schools to host enrollment drives for children.



kshay@gazette.net