Maryland’s Exchange: A Calamity a Long Time in the Making

by Veronique de Rugy

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that several state health-insurance exchanges were just as disastrous as the federal Among them was the Maryland exchange, which Governor Martin O’Malley had hoped to tout as a success story. Unfortunately for O’Malley, things aren’t looking up. A Washington Post story over the weekend reported that the problems with the exchange have been evident for quite a while. Here is a tidbit:

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 state’s exchange has been a role model for how poorly government projects can go and how wide the gap can be between promises made and results reached. On October 1, the “Web site crashed in a calamitous debut,” and enrollment has been painfully slow — according to the Post, 20,358 people have picked private insurance plans, against a goal of 150,000 by March. Officials don’t expect to reach that mark.

The whole saga is here.

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