KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Maryland Scraps Exchange Software, Will Buy Connecticut’s System

Now that the enrollment period has ended, the board that runs Maryland's troubled online insurance marketplace has opted to start over with a system that worked well in Connecticut.

Los Angeles Times: For Faulty State Exchanges, Big Decisions Loom About Healthcare Law
Although the Obama administration appears to have surpassed its goal of enrolling more than 7 million people in the new healthcare program this year, some of the states that have struggled with technology problems are headed into an intensive new phase of fixes as they try to shepherd final enrollees through the process (Reston, 4/1).

Los Angeles Times: Maryland To Overhaul Healthcare Exchange With Help From Connecticut
The board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange voted Tuesday night to overhaul its troubled healthcare website by adopting the smooth-running technology platform developed by Connecticut. Maryland has spent about $125.5 million operating and building its exchange, but in late February the state severed its $193-million contract with prime technology contractor Noridian Healthcare Solutions after struggling with technical problems that led to thousands of lost and stuck applications, as well as long wait times for frustrated consumers (Reston, 4/1).

The Washington Post: Board Of Md. Health-Insurance Exchange Votes To Hire Deloitte To Overhaul It
The board of Maryland’s health-insurance exchange voted Tuesday to hire Deloitte Consulting to replace most of the state’s troubled online marketplace with technology that has successfully worked in Connecticut. The change is expected to cost between $40 million and $50 million to implement, plus some hardware and software costs, according to Isabel FitzGerald, Maryland's secretary of information technology. Fitzgerald told board members that Maryland would adopt Connecticut's system, which has run as smoothly as any in the country, largely as is, with little retrofitting (Johnson and Wagner, 4/1).

The Baltimore Sun: Maryland Votes To Adopt Health Exchange Software Used In Connecticut
The board overseeing Maryland's health exchange voted unanimously Tuesday evening to scrap its dysfunctional website and adopt software developed by Deloitte Consulting and used by the more successful health exchange in Connecticut. The software is free for Maryland to use but Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein will negotiate an emergency $40 million to $50 million contract with the software company to develop the site (Walker, Cohn and Cox, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal: Maryland To Scrap Health Insurance Website
The state, under Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat who quickly moved to implement the Affordable Care Act, was expected to be a leader among the 14 states running their own health insurance exchanges. Instead, Maryland's health connection website crashed soon after it launched Oct. 1 and was plagued with problems for months, crippling the ability of people to sign up for coverage (Corbett Dooren, 4/1).

The Associated Press: Md. Moves To Revamp Flawed Health Exchange
Maryland has had one of the worst exchange websites of the 14 states that developed their own: The state’s health exchange website crashed shortly after it opened Oct. 1 (4/1).

The CT Mirror: Maryland Scraps Obamacare Website For Connecticut Model
Maryland is scrapping its malfunctioning health care exchange for the technology Connecticut developed for its Obamacare website, AccessHealthCT, the state’s governor said late Tuesday. "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" (Radelat, 4/1).

And in Minnesota -

Minnesota Public Radio: Enrollment Push Helps MNsure Sign Up 169K Minnesotans By Deadline
More than 169,000 Minnesotans enrolled in health coverage through the state's health insurance marketplace through the six-month open enrollment period that ended Monday. About 60,000 people signed up in March alone. Early on, faulty software and other problems turned the enrollment process into a frustrating ordeal for thousands of state residents (Stawicki, 4/1).

The Star Tribune: As Deadline Passes, MNsure Exceeds Sign-Up Goal
After a halting start that left thousands of Minnesotans pulling out their hair in frustration, MNsure officials said Tuesday they exceeded their goals for the initial open enrollment period. "I think it's fair to say MNsure has turned a corner," interim CEO Scott Leitz said. Nearly 170,000 Minnesotans signed up for insurance coverage through MNsure, the state’s new online insurance exchange, according to preliminary figures. That's well above the 135,000 the agency set as a target last October, a few weeks before the website and call center came unglued with technical glitches that lasted through the end of the year (Crosby, 4/2).

Meanwhile, in other related news -

Kaiser Health News: Co-Op Health Insurance Plans See Early Success
The names of the big health insurance companies are familiar – Blue Cross, Aetna, United Healthcare. But what about CoOportunity Health, or Health Republic Insurance of New York? These are among 23 new health insurance companies that started under the Affordable Care Act. They're all nonprofit, member-owned cooperatives, and the aim is to create more competition and drive prices down (Whitney, 4/2).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.