Another blue state Obamacare exchange director resigns
The botched rollout of Obamacare has claimed another bureaucrat. Maryland's state Obamacare exchange director resigned after it was discovered that she was on a vacation in the Cayman Islands when the website imploded.
This makes the third blue state exchange director forced out because of problems with the websites. Previously, the directors for the troubled Hawaii and Oregon exchanges had been run out of town.
The director of Maryland's troubled health insurance exchange resigned Friday amid ongoing technical problems and questions about a Caribbean vacation she took while the online marketplace faltered.
Rebecca Pearce, hired two years ago to build a $107 million exchange, leaves her post as officials struggle to repair the system that launched Oct. 1.
The exchange's rocky start and low enrollment have become ammunition for political attacks on Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who was tasked by the governor with overseeing the state's implementation of the federal health care reform law.
The board of the Maryland Heath Benefit Exchange accepted Pearce's resignation during an emergency session Friday night. In a statement, Joshua Sharfstein, the state health secretary and board chairman, said Pearce "worked tirelessly and with tremendous dedication."
Pearce, whose starting salary in 2011 was $175,000, will be replaced on an interim basis by Carolyn Quattrocki, a top adviser to Gov. Martin O'Malley.
As state lawmakers grilled Sharfstein on Nov. 26 on why the health exchange was still broken, Pearce was on a week's vacation in the Cayman Islands.
During the trip, she could not be reached by phone, email or text, the health department said Friday.
Brown said in an interview Friday that he did not know Pearce planned to leave town until she was already gone. He called her absence during the week of Thanksgiving a "very" big problem. "We just launched a staff surge and we needed all hands on deck," he said. "Now is not the time to take a vacation."
Pearce did not return a call seeking comment on her resignation or her trip.
So, Pearce has now gone on permament vacation, although I don't think it will be quite as wonderful as the Cayman Islands. But really, can you blame her? We've all been there - the real world closing in and all you want to do is take off and forget everything.
But when you make $175,000 and are responsible for the rollout of the most significant program in the last generation, your bosses might not look too kindly on you getting away from it all.
Bon Voyage Ms. Pearce. I sincerely hope you land on your feet.