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Gansler radio ad hits Brown on health exchange

Two days after calling for an investigation into what went wrong with the state’s heath benefit exchange, Douglas F. Gansler has released a radio ad attacking Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown for his role in leading the state response to the federal Affordable Care Act.

The one-minute commercial starts with retired nurse Bonita Spikes discussing her attempts to use MarylandHealthConnection.gov.

“I tried at least 50 times,” Spikes says in the ad. “The website’s ridiculous. I mean, I used the website and I still had to call.”

Doug Gansler

In this April 24, 2013 file photo, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler speaks in an interview at The Daily Record in Baltimore, Md. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

The ad quotes published reports about the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange site’s failure, citing a $261 million cost to taxpayers (it fails to note that the figure used is for all costs related to the exchange through fiscal year 2015 and that state officials said earlier this month that the total cost of the site stands, as of March 31, at $129 million).

Last week, state officials announced plans to stop using the website developed for the state and move to a system developed for Connecticut’s health benefit exchange.

A narrator goes on to describe “tens of thousands of Maryland families, left without coverage because people couldn’t get their website up and running.”

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley last week praised Brown for his leadership related to the exchange and fixing issues that have caused the site not to work properly since it opened on Oct. 1.

The ad follows a call from Gansler on Tuesday for O’Malley to hire a special counsel to investigate the failures related to the exchange. The request is similar to one made by Sen. David R. Brinkley, the Senate minority leader, and other Republicans. Those requests have been repeatedly denied by Democratic legislators who lead the Joint Oversight Committee on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. One of the chairmen of the committee, Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton has endorsed Brown in his bid for governor.

 

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