After “changing flat tires on this rolling car for the last five, going on six months,” Maryland is taking its lemon of a healthcare enrollment site off the road.

With the deadline for US citizens to enroll in a health plan nigh, Maryland has decided to pull the plug on its ailing health insurance exchange site and replace it with an entirely new system built for another state. The board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the quasi-public entity set up by the State of Maryland to operate the state’s Affordable Care Act health insurance program, has voted to scrap its own enrollment website and buy technology developed for Connecticut’s health insurance exchange site. Deloitte, the company that managed the development of Connecticut’s site, will perform the integration work to configure the site for Maryland.
Maryland’s system has never worked properly. It crashed at launch, and it has been limping along ever since. The state was forced to set up expanded call centers to take enrollments over the phone, and it encouraged enrollees to go through insurance brokers rather than overwhelm the failing system built under the guidance of prime contractor Noridian Healthcare Solutions. In a news conference, Governor Martin O’Malley explained the decision, saying, “We still have stuck applications. We still wrestle with it every day. The clock was ticking, and we have been changing the flat tires on this rolling car for the last five, going on six months.”
The state fired Noridian in February after paying the company $65.4 million. Because of the failure of the system, Maryland had to get a six-month extension from the US Department of Health and Human Services on the deadline to confirm the eligibility of health insurance recipients, which will result in over $30 million in additional Medicaid expenses to the state on top of the $125 million spent overall on the site’s development and operation.
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