Delaney renews call to dump state's health exchange

(Sun photo by John Fritze )
January 21, 2014|By John Fritze | The Baltimore Sun

Rep. John Delaney, the first-term Democrat who has become an outspoken critic of the state's troubled health exchange, argued in a letter Tuesday that "every state…that borders Maryland appears to be outperforming us" as he renewed his call to switch to the federal website.

"It is extremely troubling that major problems with the Maryland Health Connection persist," Delaney wrote in his latest letter on the issue to Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration. "It is deeply frustrating that we continue to operate with so little transparency."

Delaney, a Potomac lawmaker who won his primary election in Maryland without the endorsement of O'Malley or the party establishment in Annapolis, is widely considered to have paid for a statewide poll on the 2014 governor's race that includes his name, first reported in The Washington Post.

Delaney has not confirmed or denied the poll is his.

A former banking CEO, Delaney has been the most aggressive Democrat in the state raising questions about the exchange, which continues to experience glitches nearly four months after it launched. On Jan. 6, Delaney sent a letter to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene asking for a public explanation of the pros and cons of switching to the federal health exchange.

On Tuesday he said he is still waiting for a response.

The O'Malley administration issued a statement last week saying it has no plans to make the switch.

"The governor and lieutenant governor have decided that during the remaining months of open enrollment, the risks associated with a transition to the federal site would outweigh the benefits," the statement said.

The Maryland Health Exchange reported Friday that 22,512 people had signed up for private insurance through its website as of Jan. 11, an increase of about 2,150 from the week before but still far from the goal of enrolling 150,000 by the end of March.

The numbers came as several new glitches became public over the weekend, including that 1,078 Medicaid enrollment packets were sent to incorrect addresses and that a phone number listed on the website is actually for a pottery supply business in Seattle.

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