Election 2014 From Maryland Health Connection Facebook page: Signing up people for health insurance on Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Published on March 2nd, 2014 | by Barry Rascovar

6

Rascovar column: Maryland’s Obamacare fiasco continues

By Barry Rascovar

For MarylandReporter.com

From Maryland Health Connection Facebook page: Signing up people for health insurance on Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center.

From Maryland Health Connection Facebook page: Signing up people for health insurance on Saturday at the Baltimore Convention Center.

How high will it go? How much more will it cost the O’Malley-Brown administration to fix or totally replace the dysfunctional online health insurance system that it bragged about until the software crashed on Day One?

It already is the most costly debacle in state history.

None of the state’s options are appetizing.  Meanwhile, problems keep mounting, the latest being $30 million in extra taxpayer expenses due to the Internet computer software’s inability to identify recipients no longer eligible for free Medicaid insurance.

Just fixing this deeply flawed software will cost untold tens of millions of dollars. Moving to a new, proven system used in another state could send new spending into the stratosphere. Converting to the federal system has heavy costs as well as severe limitations and the potential for more breakdowns.

Frantic scramble            

“It seems like we’re shooting in the dark,” said an exasperated Del. Addie Eckardt, an Eastern Shore Republican at a hearing last week. She’s right.

State officials have been frantically scrambling ever since the administration’s highly touted online system froze and refused to work as promised on Oct. 1.

Officials are still grasping for straws, hoping the new prime contractor can make lemonade out of this lemon of an IT jalopy.

As for the next step once insurance enrollment closes on March 31, it’s another shot in the dark. Whatever the choice, it will be very expensive.

But will it work? There’s no guarantee that it will.

What a mess.

Looming loss of federal fnds

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Gov. Martin O'Malley, Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein at a news conference on the new health care exchange.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein at a news conference on the new health care exchange.

Complicating matters is the looming end of federal largesse. Come 2015, the state is supposed to foot the entire bill for its health insurance exchange.

Maryland has expended $182 million in federal funds with little to show for it.  How much the state will be on the hook after Jan. 1 is another unknown, but we do know it will no longer by Martin O’Malley’s problem.

What a distasteful present he’s leaving on his successor’s desk.

It’s baffling that no one running the administration is insisting on an immediate and thorough investigation of this historic screw-up. This won’t be viewed favorably by future historians.

Not only is accountability lacking but the O’Malley-Brown administration is running away from this question as fast as it can.

Where’s Anthony Brown?

Note that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the widely promoted point man on healthcare reform, continues to be missing in action. Yet he owes the Maryland public a full and frank explanation of his central role in this debacle.

How this affects Brown’s candidacy for governor remains of pivotal importance.

Does his “deer caught in headlights” performance disqualify him from serious consideration?

Is this the type of evasiveness on vital issues we can expect from him if he’s elected governor?

Do we want a governor who takes cover when controversies rage and lets underlings take the heat for him?

As Desi Arnaz famously said to Lucy, Brown has got “some ‘splainin’ to do.”

More sinkholes ahead?

Meanwhile, legislative committees continue to treat this disgraceful public embarrassment with kid gloves. History will not look kindly on their performance, either.

Digging out of this enormous sinkhole hasn’t been easy. The road ahead looks susceptible to similar perils.

What’s lacking is responsible, accountable leadership. That could become a dominant bone of contention as the June 24 primary approaches.

Read other columns by Barry Rascovar at www.politicalmaryland.com

Print Friendly

Tags: , , ,


About the Author

avatar


  • Fred

    The O’Malley/Brown “team” has made a mockery of “responsive government.” The silence from state legislators is equally outrageous. Will the people of Maryland ever receive answers? Oh, I forgot, it’s an election year!

  • Martin

    Wait…….. we have spent $182 million “with little to show for it” + $30 million for “medicaid fix” + what “the state will be on the hook for after Jan 1″……..and yet this Governor is going to cut $100 million from Pension funding leaving us with $1.8 billion to pay later…………why can’t we have responsible government in Maryland?

    • abby_adams

      As if this isn’t “bad” enough, wait until the bills come due for the millions in interest on state bonds floated to cover his “robbing Peter to pay Paul” way of funding our state government. Or the lack of $ given to MD counties to fix roads & infrastructure while the Gov spends the new higher gas tax funds on new “mass transit” projects. Think abt that next time you hit a crater sized pothole! Brown is doing nothing more or less than has been expected from all during the last 8 years. His annointing is almost guaranteed given the demographics unless the sheeple stop complaining abt being robbed by the “rich” & realize just who has taken the biggest bite out of their paychecks. And we all know the money grab comes from Annapolis & Washington DC!

  • md observer

    O’Malley/Brown still haven’t “read the bill” to find out what’s in it. They would discover that the major risks in the early years of implementation are followed by larger actuarial risks and lower Federal subsidies. As for the immediate future, I guarantee 2014 will see several more major errors by Sharfstein, Brown, et.al., each with Hobson’s choice “solutions” like those cited in Rascover’s story.

    The bad news will not come from O’Malley/Brown. It will trickle out beginning with the high (and understated) costs of the various “fixes.”Then later, the audit this summer will demonstrate the state’s attempt to “contract away” it’s own negligence. At about the same time, civil litigation (Noridian v. State) — which will be unavoidable judging from Noridian’s comments late last month that “the state kept changing our specs” — will give Noridian’s side of the story. There’s simply too much contributory negligence on both sides to settle HIX’s contract disputes equitably and avoid litigation.

  • MD Reporter-Reader

    O’Malley/Brown still haven’t “read the bill” to find out what’s in
    it. They would discover that the major risks in the early years of
    implementation are followed by larger actuarial risks and lower Federal
    subsidies. As for the immediate future, I guarantee 2014 will see
    several more major errors by Sharfstein, Brown, et.al., each with Hobson’s choice “solutions” like those cited in Rascover’s story.

    The bad news will not come from O’Malley/Brown. It will trickle out
    beginning with the high (and understated) costs of the various
    “fixes.”Then later, the audit this summer will demonstrate the state’s
    attempt to “contract away” it’s own negligence. At about the same time,
    civil litigation (Noridian v. State) — which will be unavoidable
    judging from Noridian’s comments late last month that “the state kept
    changing our specs” — will give Noridian’s side of the story. There’s
    simply too much contributory negligence on both sides to settle HIX’s
    contract disputes equitably and avoid litigation.

  • Dale McNamee

    My wife has spent over 2 months trying to get health insurance from the Md. Health Connection…She’s used over a dozen login/password combinations and still is unable to access the site,even with technical help… Then, she gets a letter from the Exchange stating that the Exhange could not determine from her SS# if she was a US citizen or not. After a few hours of “sledge-hammering” the Exchange customer rep, the letter was voided…

    There is no alternative if you want to get the tax break and subsidy… She couldn’t deal directly with the insurer… She works 22 hours a week (thanks to Obama & the Democrats), and $1500/month is unaffordable…

    Everybody involved in drawing up,approving, and implementing this nightmare should be made to pay evrry cent back…

    But, this is Moronic Maryland, and it won’t happen…

Back to Top ↑