Md. Officials: Troubled Health Exchange Will Be Fixed Before Next Enrollment Period
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A computer glitch with Connecticut’s health exchange will be corrected in the version Maryland will be using as the state revamps its own troubled website with Connecticut’s technology, Maryland’s information technology secretary assured lawmakers Tuesday.
As Maryland faces a tight timeline before the next enrollment period begins in four months, Isabel FitzGerald told a legislative oversight panel that the state is on schedule to have its own flawed website fixed with the new technology in time for the next open enrollment period in November.
“We’ve met all of our major milestones,” FitzGerald told the panel.
The glitch in Connecticut led to about 900 canceled plans and affected thousands of others. Connecticut has installed a temporary fix, a spokeswoman for Access Health CT said last week, and a permanent one is planned to be completed later this week. Access Health CT also announced plans to contact 5,784 subscribers affected by the glitch, including some who were mistakenly shifted into Medicaid plans.
About 83 percent of the Connecticut system will be unchanged in Maryland, FitzGerald said. The other 17 percent will have changes that will be fairly minor, she told the committee.
FitzGerald also said Maryland officials met last month with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to discuss the new technical platform and infrastructure for the exchange website.
“They were very pleased with the solution,” FitzGerald said. “It was technically sound. There were no additional follow-ups needed out of that meeting.”
Maryland also passed a review for the design of the new system with CMS last month, which FitzGerald described as a “very major milestone.” An operational readiness review is scheduled with CMS in September.
Maryland officials have been working to revamp the state’s health exchange website after it crashed almost immediately after opening on Oct. 1. That made it very difficult for people to enroll online, and the state ended up holding fairs to enable people to work with staffers who knew how to work around the bugs up to the May 31 deadline of the first open enrollment period.
The state could not fix all of the major problems with its own website, so the board overseeing Maryland’s health exchange voted in April to switch to Connecticut’s technology.
Meanwhile, Thomas Barnickel, Maryland’s legislative auditor, told the panel his office will begin two separate audits next week. One will focus on the contracting and procurement aspect of the exchange in Maryland and include project management issues. Another audit will focus on fiscal elements of the state’s exchange.
Barnickel noted that the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is conducting its own audit on procurement and contracting. The federal audit is expected to be completed sometime in December, he said. The two state audits are expected to be finished next summer.
Maryland enrolled about 75,000 people in private health plans, about half as many as the state initially aimed to sign up in private insurance plans. However, the state ended up enrolling about 300,000 people through Medicaid. The Connecticut health exchange technology was chosen largely because it was effective and preserves Medicaid enrollments.
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