Maryland to ditch $125M ObamaCare site

Maryland officials are poised to replace the state’s glitch-plagued $125.5 million insurance marketplace after the close of ObamaCare’s first enrollment period on Monday, according to a report in the Washington Post

The board that oversees Maryland’s health insurance marketplace is set to replace the state's website with technology from Connecticut, two people familiar with the decision told the paper.

ADVERTISEMENT
While most states rely on the federal health insurance marketplace found at HealthCare.Gov — which was plagued with its own severe technical problems in the opening months — states also had the ability to build their own insurance website. Many states with Democratically-controlled state houses and governors’ mansions opted to build their own marketplace.

That process has worked well in states like Connecticut, where a well-designed website allowed residents to purchase insurance while most of the country was grappling with glitches hindering the federal exchange. But in other states, like Maryland, Oregon, and Hawaii, defective websites have proven a persistent drag on enrollment.

Rep. John K. Delaney (D-Md.) has urged the state to abandon the troubled exchange for months. 

“I applaud the Administration's decision to use the Connecticut exchange while Maryland's website is being repaired," he said in a statement Saturday. "I want to thank the State of Connecticut for bailing out the Maryland Health Connection. This was what I had long hoped the state would do: move to a functioning exchange so that all the Marylanders who need health care coverage can get it."

The move to abandon the website could harm the future political prospects of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has openly flirted with pursuing the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

At a press conference last week, O’Malley acknowledged the website was “still not working as it was supposed to work.”

“The clock was ticking, and we have been changing the flat tires on this rolling car for the last five, going on six months now,” the governor said.

On Thursday, President Obama announced that 6 million Americans had enrolled in private insurance plans now available under the Affordable Care Act during a conference call with supporters.

That was encouraging news for the White House, signaling that despite early troubles and political headaches surrounding the healthlaw's website, the administration would approach the original Congressional Budget Office goal of around 7 million enrollees. The final day of the open enrollment period is Monday, after which most consumers will have to wait until Nov. 15 to again purchase insurance.

This story was updated at 3:48 p.m.