Maryland to replace health exchange with Connecticut's technology

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Maryland’s health insurance exchange will replace its current technology with the system that has worked successfully in Connecticut, the exchange’s board of directors voted Tuesday.

The board of directors of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange voted to adopt the technology developed by Deloitte Consulting rather than continue to fix its current system, which has already seen the original contractor, Noridian Healthcare Solutions, fired following a launch filled with flaws.

“The health exchange board selected a partner with a proven track record to upgrade our website using a platform that has an established record of success,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “We’re confident that this partner will have the website upgraded by the time the next open enrollment period begins in November.”

Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of Connecticut’s exchange, AccessHealthCT, met with Maryland officials in Baltimore in February to discuss the possibility of Maryland using Connecticut’s technology in a concept he called “exchange in a box.”

Counihan said the state must work quickly to rebuild its exchange website if it expects to be ready for the next enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15.

The current enrollment period ended Monday at midnight.

“We learn from both success and failure,” O’Malley said. “The vendors we hired failed to build us the platform they promised. So now that the first open enrollment period has ended, we’ve decided to upgrade our website.”

Maryland was one of 14 states that developed its own health insurance exchange website as part of the Affordable Care Act than take the model offered by the federal government.

In a letter to the board of the Maryland exchange, called the Maryland Health Connection, O’Malley said he had considered adopting the federal website, healthcare.gov, which had its share of problems, and he also looked at Kentucky’s exchange, which has run smoothly. Another option was to pour more resources into Maryland’s exchange, but O’Malley also rejected that idea.

“Remediating our system would take over 12 months and cost more than $66 million, and the resulting product would likely still not meet our needs or provide a stable, sustainable system,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley said Connecticut won because of its proven track record, potential for expansion and a reasonable price of between $40 million to $50 million.

“Dropping the failed Maryland Health Connection and moving to a platform that works is the right thing to do for the people of our state,” said state Rep. John Delaney. “It has been apparent for a very long time that the Maryland Health Connection was not fixable or patchable, and that the best option was to start over.”

Maryland is far from the only state to have problems with its exchange. Officials in Oregon, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Idaho and New Mexico have said they want to review the operations of their exchanges.

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