By Barry Rascovar
Feb. 25, 2014 — UNBELIEVABLE. Maryland’s healthcare exchange debacle has entered the realm of the absurd.
On Friday, the exchange announced it had signed up a mere 3,000 subscribers for private insurance over the past week, bringing the total to a pathetic 33,000. The initial private insurance goal: 150,000.
Yet on Sunday we learned the exchange had magically surpassed its six-month goals — thanks to a too-convenient mistake by a economic research consulting group connected to a state university.
Instead of an overall sign-up goal of 260,000 (Medicaid plus private insurance), the number was slashed to 160,000.
How handy: So far 190,000 people have signed up, thanks to 90,000 recipients who were previously on Medicaid and were shifted automatically to the new program.
What a bizarre way to declare victory!
More Bad News
We also learned on Sunday all work on a $19 million small business healthcare exchange ground to a halt three weeks ago, dismaying private insurers.
On Monday, the exchange belatedly announced it had fired — finally — the online sign-up system’s prime contractor at a closed-door meeting Sunday night.
The contractor, Noridian Healthcare Solutions of North Dakota (yes, North Dakota), already has been paid $67 million for producing a deeply flawed computer contraption (1,538 identified “defects” so far) that crashed on Day One. The hits keep coming.
To give Gov. Martin O’Malley his due, he had Health Secretary Josh Sharfstein tell a legislative committee on Monday the administration will not use those conveniently revised numbers but instead would stick with the original figures that actually were two-year, not one-year, goals.
Good for him.
But where was Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the designated point man on healthcare reform? The campaigning candidate once again wasn’t around to answer the hard questions from lawmakers.
And once again there was no indication anyone in the administration wants to launch a thorough investigation to pinpoint accountability for this historic screw-up any time soon.
Not only is it likely the state wasted at least $200 million in taxpayer dollars, but thousands of citizens in need of health insurance were denied that opportunity due to government incompetence — or worse.
It’s the biggest fiasco in recent Maryland history, yet no one in elective or appointed office seems to care enough to take action to find out who’s act fault until after the June 24 primary election.
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