Maryland Obamacare Exchange Investigation: “Flagrant waste and abuse of taxpayer monies”

Lily Dane
Activist Post

A probe into how millions of dollars in federal money was spent on developing the Maryland health exchange will be launched by federal investigators.

The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange has had troubles since its launch on October 1. The site crashed on its first day, and has had ongoing problems, including feuding contractors and major software issues. Noridian Healthcare Solutions, the company the state hired to build the exchange for $193 million, had already been paid $68 million prior to being terminated in February.

Maryland officials initially said they expected total enrollments in private plans to be around 150,000 by the end of March. They later claimed that goal was an error and changed the figure to 75,000.

The actual number of enrollees as of March 1 was a whopping 38,000.

That’s right – $68 million has been spent, and only 38,000 people have enrolled so far.

A significant amount of public funding has been used to build and repair Maryland’s exchange. The total cost of the state’s site is expected to reach $261 million by 2015, with most of that funding coming from federal grants.

Rep. Andy Harris, a Baltimore County Republican and vocal opponent of the ACA, said officials with the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contacted him and indicated they will look into how the money was spent by the state.

Harris and Georgia Republican Jack Kingston requested the investigation in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. In the letter, Harris wrote that state officials ignored early warning signs and chose to “waste and abuse federal taxpayer money by opening up what they knew was a flawed exchange to the public.”

In a public statement this morning, Harris said the investigation will “bring to light how hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted on one of the worst exchange rollouts in the country.”

The investigation is expected to begin in a few weeks, and is the first of its kind to be revealed publicly. A few days ago, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said it would review the formation of state-based insurance exchanges for issues, but the Maryland investigation is different – it is being conducted by a federal inspector general. That type of probe is said to be more thorough and exhaustive. The Office of Inspector General has subpoena power and should have no trouble rapidly collecting documents from HHS — the federal agency that largely funded Maryland’s site.

The inspector general’s office will be investigating five areas listed by Harris and Kingston, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees HHS.  Specifically, the IG will be looking at the contracting process and problems with Medicaid eligibility determination issues. Politico reports that Maryland “has already received a waiver from federal health officials to wait six months before conducting so-called re-determinations, a process in which some enrollees typically fall off the Medicaid rolls. State officials estimated that the cost of the delay would total about $30 million in 2014 and 2015.”

The Baltimore Sun reports that high-ranking state officials have claimed they were unaware of the extent of the problems. Yet, emails and other documents show that the site’s development had been troubled for months by technical problems and disputes between Noridian and a subcontractor.

Obamacare enrollments overall are estimated to be around 4 million as of the end of February, far short of the Obama administration’s goal of 7 million.

Meanwhile, the government is said to be bailing out insurance companies that have suffered losses due to Obamacare – to the tune of $5.5 BILLION.

And, the IRS is already warning Americans about the impending “shared responsibility payment” non-compliant citizens can expect to pay when we file our 2014 taxes.

Broken exchanges, lower-than-expected enrollment numbers, constant changes to the law, people losing their coverage and doctors, abysmal approval ratings, and millions in wasted money – what else will it take for Dear Leader to admit Obamacare is a bust and repeal the entire law?

Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”

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