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Health Benefit Exchange awards $5.1M in contracts

Health Benefit Exchange awards $5.1M in contracts

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The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange board awarded another handful of contracts Monday evening, together worth more than $5.1 million, for a variety of services related to revamping the health exchange.

It’s unclear, however, how much of that total represents new spending and how much of it was redirected from contracts that were terminated when the state decided to replace the exchange’s original flawed technology using new contractors.

The largest chunk of the total — $3.16 million — will potentially be distributed across six different vendors.

Those six vendors will be on hand to take care of any needs that may arise over the next year as the exchange is upgraded to new technology, such as staff training or systems testing, said exchange board Chairman Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.

But those vendors — who Sharfstein said were competitively selected from a pool of 30 companies that applied — won’t necessarily be doing any work.

“They’re there so that when specific needs are identified, the [exchange board] will be able to get resources quickly,” Sharfstein said.

So, it’s possible that the state will spend less than the $3.16 million, “but it will depend on the need,” he said.

The second-largest contract awarded Monday is worth $850,000 and went to Scan-Optics LLC, a company based in Manchester, Connecticut, that will provide barcoding services to help verify documents that consumers upload to the exchange system.

Another contract, worth $450,000 for printing services, went to SirSpeedy Inc., a printing and marketing company based in California.

Both of those contracts last for one year. Both awards were considered emergency procurements because Sharfstein said the state had no other option but to use those two companies. Both firms’ services are “completely integrated” into the technology that was first used for Connecticut’s exchange and is now being implemented in Maryland.

“It’s the only option that we have,” Sharfstein said.

The board also approved modifications worth more than $650,000 to an existing contract with Xerox.

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