Hogan ad takes aim at Brown leadership on health exchange

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Republican releases first negative TV ad

September 13, 2014|By Erin Cox and Meredith Cohn | The Baltimore Sun

Republican Larry Hogan released his first negative television ad of the campaign for governor Friday. It hits a point already hammered by Democrat Anthony Brown's opponents in the primary: Brown's role in the flubbed state health exchange.

What the ad says: The 30-second TV spot opens with footage of Brown saying "I'm proud that Governor O'Malley has asked me to lead the O'Malley-Brown administration's efforts in health care." It then transitions to footage of broadcast news coverage of troubles with Maryland's online health insurance marketplace. The footage includes Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen on a talk show saying, "Maryland is a mess. There is no doubt about it." The ad concludes by telling viewers, "$169 million wasted. Families unable to get health insurance. Anthony Brown — Just not ready to be governor."

The facts: While Maryland had one of the worst website launches in the country, Brown's role in the establishment of the exchange is unclear. Nor is there agreement on how much cash could be considered "wasted" on the endeavor. Despite severe technology problems, the exchange eventually enrolled more than 400,000 people, including about 68,000 in private plans sold on the website.

Brown was given broad leadership over health care reform, which involved getting laws passed in the State House. He did not appear to be involved in day-to-day management of the exchange, though the state refused to release any of the lieutenant governor's emails on the subject. The company accused of providing the state with faulty software, Noridian Healthcare Solutions, has leveled charges there was a lack of state leadership at the exchange.

State officials concluded the website was so broken they needed to scrap its central software and swap in technology developed for Connecticut. The switch adds another $43 million to the $129 million spent on the exchange as of April.

Analysis: The failed health exchange may be old news to some, but the Hogan camp clearly thinks it's effective to slam Brown for lack of leadership on a project he championed.

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