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Maryland working on legal action on health exchange problems

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland officials continue to work on recouping money from contractors involved in the state’s badly flawed initial rollout of its health exchange website, the health exchange’s executive director said Wednesday.

Carolyn Quattrocki declined to elaborate in a conference call with reporters, saying lawyers have asked her not to go into details.

“We are very actively engaged in that effort,” Quattrocki said, adding “we will hear about it at the appropriate time.”

Maryland’s health exchange website crashed right after it opened in October 2013. The system was so full of bugs, the state ended up switching to new technology that was successful in Connecticut. The state spent between $40 million and $45 million to make the switch, Quattrocki said. Most of the money was from redirected federal grants that already had been awarded to the state, she said.

“I can tell you that there’s no doubt that to the extent that the contractor was responsible for the breakdown, clearly I think there’s the expectation of the citizens and among certainly myself and my colleagues that they will be held accountable,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said during the conference call.

The revamped website, which was used for the second enrollment period between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15, performed much better, particularly since it lasted half as long as the first enrollment period, Quattrocki said.

During the three-month period, a total of 264,245 residents enrolled. That includes 119,096 individuals in private health plans and 145,149 in Medicaid.

Maryland has extended the sign-up deadline to Feb. 28 for people who started an enrollment application or called the state’s call center for help before midnight Feb. 15.

Quattrocki said the next step is to determine how many people remain uninsured in Maryland and how to best reach them.

“Despite these great enrollment numbers, there will be hundreds of thousands of Marylanders still without insurance and we need to figure out why in two years of all of these efforts, you know, we haven’t reached those folks, and so how we can be more creative and more strategic and targeted to reach the folks who are left,” Quattrocki said.