We’ve been following the breakdowns of ObamaCare closely for some time, not just at the federal level, but also in state exchanges such as in Hawaii, Oregon, and Minnesota. The Maryland exchange will get more than just a few critical looks, though. The $200 million in federal funds spent on the exchange in Maryland will be the subject of a federal probe by the Inspector General’s office at HHS, as Baltimore’s WJZ reported yesterday afternoon:
At least someone is looking into the disaster. Rep. Andy Harris, who is the only Republican from Maryland in Congress, demanded a federal probe when it became clear that Maryland wasn’t going to look into the issue:
First a troubled rollout, now a federal investigation into Maryland’s healthcare exchange. …
“How $200 million could have been frittered away in that exchange,” said Congressman Andy Harris.
Maryland Congressman Andy Harris says his request for an investigation has been taken up by the Inspector General’s office.
“I’m not hearing about any state investigation, which is one of the reasons I thought the federal government should get involved,” Harris said.
Politico also reported on the probe, and gave a few more details on the failure that prompted it:
The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is among the worst performing in the country, having enrolled just 39,000 people in private plans as of last week. And that’s despite the enthusiastic embrace of the law by state officials. State legislators are already reviewing the array of problems, which have political as well as fiscal implications. …
The inspector general’s office will be investigating five areas flagged by Harris and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees HHS. In particular, the IG will be looking at the contracting process, which awarded a $193 million contract to Noridian Healthcare Solutions to build the exchange. State officials fired the company last month.
Harris’s office also said the IG would be looking into problems with Medicaid enrollment, specifically the computer systems that determine who is eligible for the public health insurance program. The state has already received a waiver from federal health officials to wait six months before conducting so-called re-determinations, a process in which some enrollees typically fall off the Medicaid rolls. State officials estimated that the cost of the delay would total about $30 million in 2014 and 2015.
Meanwhile, the federal site is still having its issues, Jeryl Bier reports:
Although most life changes can now be reported online at Healthcare.gov or over the phone with a customer service representative, the final paragraph alerts consumers that any changes in contact information must be reported twice [emphasis in original]: “To change your home address, email address, or phone number, update the information on your Marketplace Profile page. Be sure to report address, email, and phone changes to your insurance company too. Otherwise they may not know about your new contact information.” …
Since Healthcare.gov must report changes in coverage or tax credits to insurance companies in order for coverage and billing to be accurate, it is unclear why the Marketplace is unable to communicate simple address, phone, and email changes. The site does not indicate when this capability will be added, so it’s up to consumers to do it themselves or face the risk that their insurance company won’t know how to reach them.
Be sure to click over to see the screenshots.