As far as disastrous Obamacare exchanges go, Maryland has taken the lead. The Baltimore Sun reported Sunday night that the federal inspector general will launch a probe into how the state spent federal funds, according to Rep. Andy Harris, the Republican congressman who asked for a probe last month. This comes less than a week after the Government Accountability Office agreed to investigate how Maryland and four other underperforming exchanges spent government funds.
But an audit by the inspector general is "more exhaustive and specific" than a GAO investigation, according to The Sun. And, in addition to examining how funds were spent, Harris's audit request included finding out "who specifically failed in their responsibilities to safeguard federal taxpayer money." Or, in simpler terms, who needs to be fired. The investigation will also go into decisions made by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Politically, the problems with the site started on October 1, when the exchange crashed. But reporters found that several individuals, including Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown — who was in charge of the exchange — knew about its problems a year in advance. Add that to feuding contractors and it's easy to see what went wrong over the last four and a half months.
- The launch is kind of a disaster, and the site crashes on October 1.
- For the first week, doctor options aren't visible on the site.
- During the first 10 days, the exchange enrolls 1,120 individuals. Kentucky, which has fewer uninsured but a better exchange, enrolled over 9,000, The Sun reported.
- The exchange still sucks, notes The Washington Post.
- The Sun and a number of local politicians seriously consider scrapping the exchange.
- 18th: Users say the exchange is working a little better, according to The Sun, and O'Malley brings in Optum/QSSI — which helped fix the federal exchange — for a two month, $4 million contract.
- 13th: The Washington Post runs a feature on the months leading up to the exchange's launch. The Sun notes that the biggest takeaway from the story is that the governor and lieutenant governor "were made aware of the problems with the system and did absolutely nothing about it." The lieutenant governor, Anthony Brown, is running for governor this year.
- 30th: Governor O'Malley signs emergency legislation to retroactively give insurance to people who tried and failed to sign up for health care through the exchange.
- The exchanges two main contractors sue each other. "Noridian took off-the-shelf health-care software sold by IBM and hired a technology company, EngagePoint, to stitch it together into one system," according to The Washington Post. Most of the system's problems — it doesn't tell you if you're actually enrolled and applications lose data or get lost — stem from defective software. EngagePoint claims that Noridian “concealed its lack of relevant expertise," which Noridian denies.
- Maryland adds $33 million to the exchange price tag to pay the people fixing it and "triple the work force at the state's call center."
- 24th: Noridian is fired as the exchange's main contractor.
- Both the Government Office of Accountability and the federal inspector general announce they'll be investigating the exchange.