Maryland’s ObamaCare exchange has been directing customers to a Seattle pottery store

posted at 2:21 pm on January 20, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Mary Katharine mentioned the other week that Maryland’s state-run ObamaCare exchange — which crashed the first day it was launched last fall and has been stuck in an interminable loop of fail ever since —   had been accidentally directing Maryland insurance-seekers in search of help to other states’ ObamaCare navigators. Apparently, however, that was hardly the least facepalm-worthy of the website’s proffered misguidance, via the Baltimore Sun:

Critics said Saturday that the latest problem to hit Maryland’s online health exchange — an incorrect help-line number that directed hundreds of callers to a Seattle-based pottery business — was another symptom of the poorly operating website.

“You can’t make this stuff up, and I guess if it wasn’t so serious, it could be funny,” said Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley, a Frederick County Republican.

The website mistakenly listed a 1-800 number that sent some Marylanders attempting to pick a health insurance provider to Seattle Pottery Supply instead of Maryland’s call center. The number appears under the words “State Advantage” and “call a representative.” The correct number for help shows up multiple times on the site before the incorrect number appears.

A state spokeswoman said Saturday that she had no update on efforts to fix the problem. Maryland officials were unaware of the problem until contacted Friday by The Baltimore Sun.

Way to stay on top of things, guys. Maryland is hoping to have 150,000 residents signed up for insurance by the end of March, but so far, they report that they have fewer than 23,000 enrollees with no definitive end in sight to the website’s glitchiness. The state legislature has been organizing hearings to try and figure out exactly what went wrong with the website’s construction, but in the meantime, the O’Malley administration finally ruled out one Congressman’s proposal to temporarily switch over to the federal exchange while the state-run version gets it act together. The CEO of Carefirst sent off a quick letter to Gov. O’Malley during that deliberative process which perhaps aptly demonstrates why they decided against it, via WaPo:

Governor,

As a follow on to our recent communication, I just want to say that, while I know your frustrations with Maryland’s efforts on the Exchange have been great, a move to the Federal Exchange at this time would present substantial new risks and costs. Indeed, it may go so further complicate an already complicated situation as to make any near term remedy virtually unattainable.

We are dealing directly with the Federal Exchange in Virginia and have extensive day to day experience with it. We find that there are many serious and persistent operating and technical issues that undermine effective enrollment. Missing functionality limits the ability to do basic things such as correct and maintain life event changes for people once they are enrolled. We are concerned about the confusion, poor service and anger this will produce.

All things considered, my strong advice would be that the State stay its course and fix as much as it can with its own Exchange during this current open enrollment period. … It also greatly facilitates our efforts to support you since we are very familiar with the work that is being done by the Maryland Exchange and with the processes and technology that underpin it (however flawed).

What a mess.


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Ha!

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on January 20, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Whoever’s bought O’Malley 2016 shares on Intrade should just cash out now.

blammm on January 20, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Oh well progress takes time, ya know…..and of course more money.

jaywemm on January 20, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of Malley’s 2016 hopes being flushed down the drain.

Doomberg on January 20, 2014 at 2:24 PM

ROFL

Let’s put these fools in charge of everything because obviously the private sector can’t do anything right.

Bishop on January 20, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Might as well. After paying for it, the average person ain’t gonna have a pot to piss in.

Lanceman on January 20, 2014 at 2:25 PM

The Keystone Cops build a web site.

Kafir on January 20, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Maryland’s ObamaCare exchange has been directing customers to a Seattle pottery store

It’s a minor error. They meant to direct customers to a Seattle pot store.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on January 20, 2014 at 2:28 PM

ERROR ELEVENTY ELEVENTY!

fogw on January 20, 2014 at 2:30 PM

an incorrect help-line number that directed hundreds of callers to a Seattle-based pottery business

Next up, a misdirection to a Seattle based pot business.

rbj on January 20, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Be sure to watch MS-I’M AN EFFING IDIOT TV
as they explain that this is all good because you know,
people want pottery anyway…well, more than healthcare.

beside their existing plans Sucked anyways!!

ToddPA on January 20, 2014 at 2:31 PM

We are concerned about the confusion, poor service and anger this will produce.

Why is that, Governor?

antipc on January 20, 2014 at 2:34 PM

But didn’t Oblamer say the problem was with the states that didn’t build state exchanges? What say you Sotero?

hillsoftx on January 20, 2014 at 2:35 PM

What’s the one lesson Democrats WON’T draw from this debacle?

You can be certain they won’t conclude government is incompetent. Nothing at all can or ever will teach them that the obvious is also true, and that government (ex the military) cannot be relied upon for anything important.

MTF on January 20, 2014 at 2:37 PM

But didn’t Oblamer say the problem was with the states that didn’t build state exchanges? What say you Sotero?

hillsoftx on January 20, 2014 at 2:35 PM

“1-800-F1UCKYO!!!!” — Barky

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on January 20, 2014 at 2:37 PM

That picture of that doofus O’Malley should be used for his Presidential campaign. Jerk.

NavyMustang on January 20, 2014 at 2:40 PM

On the other hand, if you or a loved one dies and is cremated due to a lack of medical insurance for treatment after your policy has been cancelled, the Maryland ObamaCare exchange will put you a leg up on acquiring a lovely vase from the Seattle area where you can store their ashes.

jon1979 on January 20, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Although I can’t see the US electing a 69-year-old, retread battle-ax like Clinton, the Dems seem to have an unbelievably empty bench if we can just get through 2016. I can’t think of a serious Dem. None.

That picture of O’Malley is great. What a clown.

BuckeyeSam on January 20, 2014 at 2:42 PM

It’s a minor error. They meant to direct customers to a Seattle pot store.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on January 20, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Thread.

ElectricPhase on January 20, 2014 at 2:45 PM

I’ve heard of holistic healing, but I didn’t think pottery was a part of that.

22044 on January 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Shaking me ‘ed here…

If there’s anything that’d get me to believing that the US has been invaded by aliens from another planet, the current Democrats would be that. From the Stupid Gratuitous Planet they came.

Lourdes on January 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM

If you like your pottery, you can keep your pottery.

And by the way, our Lt. Governor, who was in charge of this, is a freakin’ genius: “Maryland welcomes wrong people to Medicaid.”

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on January 20, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Although I can’t see the US electing a 69-year-old, retread battle-ax like Clinton, the Dems seem to have an unbelievably empty bench if we can just get through 2016. I can’t think of a serious Dem. None.

That picture of O’Malley is great. What a clown.

BuckeyeSam on January 20, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Brian Schweitzer is the guy I am keeping my eye on.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on January 20, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Getting the number right multiple times with one (at least so far) erroneous error points to a larger problem. I’m not a web or XML expert by any means, but string reuse is an old programming concept.

Is absolutely everything hard-coded (badly)? I know, rhetorical question.

SteveInRTP on January 20, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Although I can’t see the US electing a 69-year-old, retread battle-ax like Clinton, the Dems seem to have an unbelievably empty bench if we can just get through 2016. I can’t think of a serious Dem. None.

In terms of a snapshot today, I agree 100%. However, evil abhors a vacuum and the Dems will find someone else to be the next One.

That picture of O’Malley is great. What a clown.

BuckeyeSam on January 20, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Yes – perfect for this blog!

22044 on January 20, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Even a pottery store would meet medical needs better than Obamacare anyway.

whatcat on January 20, 2014 at 2:59 PM

America had the best health care system in the world! When you try it with a sorry system like O-No-Care, this is the result you’re gonna get!

Sincerely, Richard Sherman

22044 on January 20, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Too bad it isn’t this

Maryland’s ObamaCare exchange has been directing customers to a Seattle pottery store

Schadenfreude on January 20, 2014 at 3:04 PM

You simply cannot make this stuff up. Priceless

neyney on January 20, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Is that a misprint…pottery or pot store…

right2bright on January 20, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Sparking a possible renaissance?

Fallon on January 20, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Getting the number right multiple times with one (at least so far) erroneous error points to a larger problem. I’m not a web or XML expert by any means, but string reuse is an old programming concept.

Is absolutely everything hard-coded (badly)? I know, rhetorical question.

SteveInRTP on January 20, 2014 at 2:54 PM

That’s the natural state of affairs. In the same way 90% of people believe they are of above-average intelligence, just about any developer that steps into a new job looks at the old job and says, what was this guy thinking, and promptly spends the first several weeks reorganizing, restructuring and reprogramming. I have done this the last three jobs I’ve worked, including the current one. And I’m sure after I move on, the next guy will come in, wonder what the heck I was thinking, and then “fix” all my bad programming.

I have at times quipped that people in my line of work would make the Internet as a whole more effective if, instead of working on our own projects, we just all went around fixing each other’s code in perpetuity.

The Schaef on January 20, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Hit the “Post” button prematurely. Hate when that happens, amirite, bros?

If I were willing to give them benefit of the doubt, I’d say even if certain values were stored for reference, there was a number somewhere that was forgotten, or someone made a deliberate decision to hard-code there, and it didn’t get touched by an update. It’s only nominally incompetent, which is probably giving them too much credit, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen it.

The Schaef on January 20, 2014 at 3:22 PM

At least clay can be made into something useful, the website? I don’t think so.

hip shot on January 20, 2014 at 3:27 PM

It’s clear what is happening here. O’Malley is making it clear that Maryland has no place for kiln users.

Seriously, we all should call the Maryland Obamacare number and ask how much a new potter’s wheel will cost.

Happy Nomad on January 20, 2014 at 3:29 PM

And somebody actually thought having the government run our healthcare was a good idea. This should be death knell for every single one of those losers…

Big John on January 20, 2014 at 3:36 PM

The Schaef on January 20, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I agree. Just as I’m shuddering at my grammar “erroneous error”… what was I thinking?

I’d hate to look at the last code I wrote, circa 1999.

SteveInRTP on January 20, 2014 at 3:37 PM

i would think that the pottery store, having been publicly linked to obamacare, could sue for libel.

jlw on January 20, 2014 at 3:41 PM

an incorrect help-line number that directed callers to a pottery business

Well…. then you can actually get the perfect item to complement your new Obamacare policy.

It would be a literal purchase of a crock of sh*t.

lynncgb on January 20, 2014 at 3:45 PM

I live in USSR Maryland and you will be hard pressed to see any of this in the newspapers. The Baltimore Sun shrills for the DEM party in the state and the local TV news has never reported on any of this. Heck when the site launched in our state the head of the whole project was on a cruise. She later resigned, but I’m sure she is back on her feet in some high paying gig advising the state. It is a joke.

SPGuy on January 20, 2014 at 3:50 PM

What a front-page pic…

Gomer the Pile.

Marcola on January 20, 2014 at 3:54 PM

SPGuy on January 20, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Yeah, The Baltimore Sun and WaPo does a pretty good job of hiding Maryland’s Obamacare problems. They do so for a couple reasons not the least of which are the political aspirations of O’Malley and the LT Gov. They also are trying to maintain the myth that Maryland’s Obamacare is a model for the nation.

Happy Nomad on January 20, 2014 at 4:03 PM

The Schaef on January 20, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I know what you’re saying, but just a pedantic note for the future, you mean to write “above median”. It’s entirely possible for 99% of a group to be “above average” for that group. A simple example in the extreme to illustrate the point would be a group of 100 people with 99 of them scoring 85, say, and one scoring 70. The average score (mean) is below 85 so 99% of that group is above the average score for the group. The median score, however, is 85 and no one is above that.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on January 20, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Shouldn’t they have been directing them to a Seattle pot store? Or maybe a Denver pot store?

VorDaj on January 20, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Keep voting democrat!

Murphy9 on January 20, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Genius, pure. A hacker seeking to throw a kink in the system could not have done better.

jake49 on January 20, 2014 at 7:01 PM

I suppose this might not be a mistake. I mean, isn’t the pottery of more value?

ghostwalker1 on January 20, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Oh, and isn’t everything Democrat a crock anyway?

ghostwalker1 on January 20, 2014 at 7:04 PM

IOW, as bad as my state’s site is, switching to the fed’s site is still worse.

You must first have to prove a monumental level of incompetency before becoming a democratic politician; I can’t see any other excuse.

BKeyser on January 20, 2014 at 7:08 PM

That wasn’t a glitch, it was a feature. They were just referring people to a company that can supply them with cremation urns. With Obamacare coverage, they’ll come in handy.

CTimbo on January 20, 2014 at 8:00 PM

This certainly is bad but we in Oregon have it worst. Our Web portal has never signed up one person. To get health care in OR you have to fill out a 19 page form to apply in the first place. Oh by the way we also have a democrat as Governor.

regmgr on January 21, 2014 at 10:33 AM