First in class – Maryland healthcare site was a disaster long before anyone else

posted at 3:31 pm on January 12, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Pretty much from the beginning of the entire, sad Obamacare debacle, Maryland has been one of the driving stories. They were heralded as one of the earliest adopters of the idea, stepping up to set up their own state exchange and proudly proclaiming that they would be a model for the rest of the nation – a claim which the President trumpeted on more than one occasion. As it turns out, they really were the model for the country. Many stories broke early on, with their director having to resign after vacationing in the islands while the site crashed and burned. As recently as this month their site was sending users to other locations as if they had incorporated Apple Maps into the program.

But now, the Washington Post has finished digging through the archives of their documents and found that Maryland was well ahead of the curve in another area as well. They knew their national model of a site was a disaster at least a year before it was turned on.

More than a year before Maryland launched its health insurance exchange, senior state officials failed to heed warnings that no one was ultimately accountable for the $170 million project and that the state lacked a plausible plan for how it would be ready by Oct. 1.

Over the following months, as political leaders continued to proclaim that the state’s exchange would be a national model, the system went through three different project managers, the feuding between contractors hired to build the online exchange devolved into lawsuits, and key people quit, including a top information technology official because, as he would later say, the project “was a disaster waiting to happen.”

The repeated warnings culminated days before the launch, with one from contractors testing the Web site that said it was “extremely unstable” and another from an outside consultant that urged state officials not to let residents enroll in health plans because there was “no clear picture” of what would happen when the exchange would turn on.

Wow. That story sounds awfully familiar, but the back story described in this report really brings it into focus. More than a year before launch the design team was missing deadlines – a fact that was apparently brushed off by the governor’s office. They were also supposed to have penned agreements with a variety of state agencies early last year which would allow them to access data from Medicaid and the DMV among others. Yet when they were asked, those agencies reported that nobody had contacted them. $9M in federal funds was set aside for a designated watchdog who would ensure that the development process rolled out smoothly. I’m not sure what he was watching… perhaps squirrels.

Maryland really does look like a smaller, test laboratory of the federal site, right down to the last disappointing detail. Read the rest for the full story, but it’s clearly yet another classic case of the government arriving to “help” you, flushing amazing amounts of cash down a rat hole and winding up with virtually nothing to show for it. But if there’s any good news on the horizon, Washington has now offered to jump in and help them out.

With many Marylanders still facing frozen computer screens and error codes when they attempt to select insurance, O’Malley is expected this coming week to decline an offer by the Obama administration to temporarily take over parts of the troubled site, despite the urging of some state Democrats to embrace the move. This past week, O’Malley acknowledged that the rollout “did not meet our expectations” but said that many things have been fixed and the state’s site is improving.

Why would you turn down help from the White House? What could possibly go wrong?


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Because gub’mint SUX as an insurance broker.

locomotivebreath1901 on January 12, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Somebody needs to be impeached!

*I will continue to say that until the media either knocks it off with Christie or they start talking about the hypocrisy when it comes to obambi.

VegasRick on January 12, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Looking toward the WH for help is like calling Dr. Kevorkian to solve your medical issue.

hillsoftx on January 12, 2014 at 3:55 PM

aye carumba

cmsinaz on January 12, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Will Obamacare be repealed or won’t it? Will Congress fund it or won’t it? Will the web site be fixed or not? Blah, blah, blah. We the people just need to do what we need to do and Congress be damned. Resist. Refuse. Revolt. EXEMPT OURSELVES! We did not comply with Prohibition and we simply should not comply with Obamacare. For religious reasons. For privacy reasons. For the cause of liberty and freedom and in protest of the idea that the federal government (under one party rule, no less), can force private citizens to purchase anything with our own money. Are we citizens or subjects? Mice or (wo)men? Just say NO to socialism and to the corrupt, unionized, far left IRS: the gestapo of America’s political class. After all, the federal government ignores millions of illegals who are breaking U.S. immigration law every day. Our Founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. All we have to do is just say no to a scheme we all know is un-American and a violation of our most basic founding fundamentals of privacy, self reliance, limited government and individual freedom.
How To Opt Out Of Obamacare. Know your options and become savvy self-pay patients. Join a health care sharing ministry. These are voluntary, charitable membership organizations that agree to share medical bills among the membership. They function similar to insurance, and are probably the best alternative to conventional health insurance. There are four of them, at least that I know of. Three are open only to practicing Christians (Samaritan Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Christian Care Ministry) while a fourth, Liberty HealthShare, is open to anyone who agrees with their ethical commitment to religious liberty. They operate entirely outside of Obamacare’s regulations, and typically offer benefits for about half the cost of similar health insurance. Members are also exempt from having to pay the tax for being uninsured. From the article by Sean Parnell
:/ /thefederalist.com/2013/12/04/opt-obamacare/#.Up9MwGKiM_o.email

devan95 on January 12, 2014 at 4:02 PM

The repeated warnings culminated days before the launch, with one from contractors testing the Web site that said it was “extremely unstable” and another from an outside consultant that urged state officials not to let residents enroll in health plans because there was “no clear picture” of what would happen when the exchange would turn on.

Have these contractors been audited by the IRS yet? Just asking.

DaveDief on January 12, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Our Lt. Gov. was in charge and totally F’ed it up. He’ll probably still win the Dem primary to run for governor.

As I always say, in Maryland we use the Peter Principle of Politics. You screw up and get promoted.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on January 12, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Barbra Streisand has a column on HuffPo today extolling the wonders of ACA, and one thing she says is that all the states that set up websites have had great success. I posted a comment correcting that, which I’m sure she won’t see.

juliesa on January 12, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Couldn’t happen to a “nicer” guy. My governor, Martin “Douchenozzle” O’Malley.

NavyMustang on January 12, 2014 at 4:37 PM

If O’Malley were an HONORABLE man, he’d have fallen on his sword by now.

But then, so would have Obama.

So much for HONORABLE men.

GarandFan on January 12, 2014 at 4:49 PM

I can’t wait for the 2016 dem nomination debates, when O’Malley throws Benghazi at Hillary, and she throws Maryland’s Obamacare fiasco at him. Good times!

PatMac on January 12, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Why would you turn down help from the White House?

I suspect it’s because it was set up in advance that you would decline. The White House wants credit for offering (and they think it makes it look more like their system is so well it’s ready to bail out others).

But they would have arranged in advance for the guv to decline their offer. The LAST thing they want is more states to be responsible for.

jeanneb on January 12, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Washington has been completely surrounded and held hostage by Maryland for centuries.

Mary had a little land,

its fleece was Red as Lenin.

And every where that Mary(land) went

she glorified the Kremlin.

viking01 on January 12, 2014 at 6:06 PM

I thought this was one of the “shining examples” of the success of ObingaJunta care. I mean, our “betters”, told us so.

98ZJUSMC on January 12, 2014 at 6:30 PM

viking01 on January 12, 2014 at 6:06 PM

LOL! God help us conservative Marylanders!

NavyMustang on January 12, 2014 at 6:54 PM

key people quit, including a top information technology official because, as he would later say, the project “was a disaster waiting to happen.”

One of the major problems with lay people who are not familiar with information technology is that they think it is somehow easy to simply turn on any kind of web delivery for anything. It isn’t. It is generally not done by someone saying “hey, lets create a website for selling health insurance” but done by someone who is already selling health insurance saying “hey, lets build a web interface for this”.

It is like someone who has never been in the airplane business in their life deciding to sink a bunch of money into building an airplane factory. Sure, they can build a building that looks like a factory, and that is certainly a required step, but what about what goes on inside that building? Yep, you can buy a whole bunch of aircraft factory hardware and get it all installed in there, but you still haven’t actually built an airplane and flown it yet. You can sink billions into getting the best consultants you can find to build you the most perfect state of the art airplane factory, but that does not mean you know how to build airplanes.

These states can spend billions on websites but that doesn’t mean they actually know how to deliver health insurance or understand that market at all.

This is a perfect example of what happens with bureaucrats who live in a fantasy world are given an unlimited budget.

crosspatch on January 12, 2014 at 7:38 PM

Well, I hosed that one.

crosspatch on January 12, 2014 at 7:39 PM

crosspatch on January 12, 2014 at 7:39 PM

The message came across, loud and clear.

Barred on January 12, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Maryland is making Oregon look gooooooood.

Leftist hell holes gonna be leftist hell holes.

jukin3 on January 12, 2014 at 9:18 PM

EPIC FAIL: Governor O’Malley’s stench

The illustrious Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is known throughout the state for his mind-boggling arrogance, smugness, ruthless bullying of defenseless citizens and blatant, in-your-face dishonesty and corruption…

But, but, but O’Malley really cares… oh wait

O’Malley’s daughter, 18, found unconscious, briefly hospitalized
[New graduate said to appear intoxicated at Inner Harbor; 1st lady calls it ‘teachable moment

#O’Malley-Care_values

Terp Mole on January 13, 2014 at 12:34 PM

jukin3: Maryland is making Oregon [Atlantic City] look gooooooood. Leftist hell holes gonna be leftist hell holes.

O’Malley’s signature “success” story: Legalized Gambling

Police: Mother Left 4-Year-Old In Car At Maryland Live! Casino For More Than 8 Hours

According to police, Brown was seen pulling into the parking garage at the casino with her daughter in the car around 10 a.m. New Year’s Eve. She parked on the fourth level and left the child unattended for hours while in the casino.

The girl was found sobbing in the car just after 6:30 p.m.

Anne Arundel County Police say the little girl was left inside the car for eight hours with no food and no heat as temperatures plummeted below freezing.

This today…

Robber Held Knife To His Throat At Maryland Live! Parking Garage

Terp Mole on January 13, 2014 at 12:46 PM