Officials Knew O’Malley’s ObamaCare Insurance Exchange Was Dysfunctional For A Year Before Launch

A lengthy investigative piece in The Washington Post shows that senior Maryland state officials knew about serious problems with Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Obamacare exchange a full year before it was launched. After ignoring the issues, O’Malley publicly hailed the glitch-laden exchange as a national model even as ongoing problems grew worse. Now, Maryland is enacting “emergency legislation” to insure those who cannot gain coverage through the state exchange:

More than a year before Maryland launched its health insurance exchange, senior state officials failed to heed warnings that no one was ultimately accountable for the $170 million project and that the state lacked a plausible plan for how it would be ready by Oct. 1.

Over the following months, as political leaders continued to proclaim that the state’s exchange would be a national model, the system went through three different project managers, the feuding between contractors hired to build the online exchange devolved into lawsuits, and key people quit, including a top information technology official because, as he would later say, the project “was a disaster waiting to happen.”

The repeated warnings culminated days before the launch, with one from contractors testing the Web site that said it was “extremely unstable” and another from an outside consultant that urged state officials not to let residents enroll in health plans because there was “no clear picture” of what would happen when the exchange would turn on. …

This report is based on a Washington Post review of thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents, including e-mails, internal reports, audits and court records, along with interviews with dozens of current and former contractors, state officials and others. The review shows that the creation of the exchange was dysfunctional from the start and that there were repeated missteps at almost every level.

As the state continues to try to fix the site, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and state lawmakers are working to enact emergency legislation to spend millions to help insure those who could not sign up and had to begin the year with no coverage.