Maryland to give up on $125 million Obamacare exchange
Wasting taxpayer money because of incompetenece and negligence is not a crime. But Maryland's decision to abandon its $125 million Obamacare exchange is an argument in favor of criminalizing such behavior by both elected leaders and managers of the bureacracy.
Someone should go to jail for this.
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.
Like Maryland, Connecticut was one of the first and most enthusiastic states to embrace the idea of building its own insurance exchange rather than using a federal site to implement the law’s sweeping changes in health-care coverage.
But unlike Maryland, where the system crashed within moments of launching and has limped along ever since, Connecticut’s exchange has worked as smoothly as any in the country.
Maryland is not alone in having deep-seated problems with its health marketplace. Technical issues also have plagued Oregon, Minnesota and Hawaii. But Maryland will be the first to walk away from its site, a particular embarrassment for Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who was placed in charged of implementing health-care reform in Maryland by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).
It was not immediately clear how much more money Maryland may have to invest to get a fully functioning system, according to the two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the changes.
The money the state has already spent has gone toward development and operation of the Web site and for agency operating costs. The existing Maryland system will stay operational for “a period of time” while the Connecticut version is being installed, one of the individuals said.
O’Malley told reporters Friday morning to expect an announcement on the future of the troubled exchange next week. The exchange board is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Whatever share of that $125 million was contributed by the federal government should be refunded to Washington by the state of Maryland. That goes double for the state of Oregon where criminal charges may be brought against some officials who may have lied to Congress about the progress being made in constructing the site. Oregon has spent over $300 million and has not signed up a single consumer via the exchange.
Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota - the list of state exchanges that are not working or vastly underperforming is a long one. As long as there is no penalty for stupidity or worse in spending the people's tax money, we will continue to have boondoggles like these and state officials who get off scott free.