Maryland Health Website May Not be Ready by Deadline - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Health Website May Not be Ready by Deadline

Posted: Updated:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Maryland's online health care exchange has some significant problems that are not on track to be corrected by the March 31 deadline for open enrollment, and officials are exploring other options for the second enrollment period starting in November, state officials told a legislative oversight panel on Monday.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the state's health secretary, told the newly formed panel the alternatives under consideration include adopting technology developed for other states, partnering with the federal exchange and implanting major fixes to Maryland's current technology.

"We are evaluating alternative options seriously," Sharfstein said.

Sharfstein said the state plans to stick with the Maryland health exchange through the March 31 deadline for the current enrollment period, as many improvements have been made since it opened Oct. 1 and crashed almost immediately. Sharfstein, however, said the decision to keep using the exchange for now is not a sign Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration is satisfied with the way the system's information technology is now.

"Far from it. There remain serious IT defects with the system we are using," Sharfstein said. "These defects are causing frustration for some consumers and are requiring substantial manual work in certain cases to successfully complete enrollments."

Isabel FitzGerald, the state's secretary of the Maryland Department of Information Technology, said there are a number of problems "that are reasonably significant that are not on track to be corrected by the 31st of March."

One of the problems involves a way for people to alter health plans to add a new spouse or baby, said Dori Henry, a spokeswoman for the health department. The exchange also is having problems with automated appeals, which enable people to file an appeal in the system, if they believe the eligibility determination or subsidy calculation they received is wrong.

Lawmakers from both parties asked a variety of questions during the hearing in Annapolis, from basic administrative questions about how current enrollment efforts are being addressed to what could happen in the future.

Sen. Barry Glassman, R-Harford, asked Sharfstein for an estimated cost in added expenses incurred by trying to fix the problems with the exchange so far. Sharfstein estimated the added cost to be roughly $33 million.

Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton, D-Charles, asked Sharfstein if the federal government would continue to support the state, if Maryland decides to pursue an alternative course. Sharfstein said the state is working closely with the federal government, so it will be supportive.

"I think that if we have a good plan, we'll have federal participation," Sharfstein said.

Sharfstein told the panel that health officials are not setting a deadline for deciding rather to pursue an alternative to the state's exchange. He said he would keep the panel posted. Sharfstein also said federal officials have told him it is "extremely unlikely" that the federal government will extend the March 31 deadline for the current enrollment period.

Lawmakers have scheduled another hearing in two weeks to get an update on the number of people who are unable to complete the enrollment process. Other topics will include a progress report on how many problems the state exchange has that are believed to fixable and an update on alternatives to the state exchange that are under consideration.

Maryland officials had hoped to enroll 260,000 people by the March 31 deadline, with about 150,000 of them enrolling through private health plans. As of Feb. 1, 29,059 have enrolled in private plans. The state says 140,416 have obtained Medicaid coverage starting Jan. 1.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Delaware State University to Build New Residence Hall

    DSU to Build New Residence Hall

    09/22/2017 14:59:00 -04:002017-09-22 18:59:00 GMT
    Tuesday, September 26 2017 7:55 AM EDT2017-09-26 11:55:50 GMT
    Delaware State University. (Skycam 16)Delaware State University. (Skycam 16)
    Delaware State University announced Friday that in order to deal with a rapidly growing residential enrollment, the school plans to build a new 200,000-square-foot residence hall, to open in the fall of 2019.More
    Delaware State University announced Friday that in order to deal with a rapidly growing residential enrollment, the school plans to build a new 200,000-square-foot residence hall, to open in the fall of 2019.More
  • Carney Launches Eco-Tour to Spur Outdoor Activity

    Carney Launches Eco-Tour to Spur Outdoor Activity

    09/26/2017 07:26:00 -04:002017-09-26 11:26:00 GMT
    Tuesday, September 26 2017 7:51 AM EDT2017-09-26 11:51:50 GMT
    Delaware Gov. John CarneyDelaware Gov. John Carney

    Gov. John Carney is urging Delawareans to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

    More

    Gov. John Carney is urging Delawareans to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

    More
  • New Rehoboth City Hall Now Open

    New Rehoboth City Hall Now Open

    09/25/2017 16:33:00 -04:002017-09-25 20:33:00 GMT
    Tuesday, September 26 2017 7:51 AM EDT2017-09-26 11:51:19 GMT
    After delays and change orders, the City of Rehoboth Beach's new city hall is now open for business. The building also houses the convention center, police department, Alderman Court, and a 911 center.More
    After delays and change orders, the City of Rehoboth Beach's new city hall is now open for business. The building also houses the convention center, police department, Alderman Court, and a 911 center.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Murder Investigation Underway in Somerset County

    Murder Investigation Underway in Somerset County

    Maryland State Police are investigating an apparent homicide that occurred this afternoon in Princess Anne. The victim is a male believed to be in his thirties, although troopers are still working to identify him. Anyone with more information is being asked to call Maryland State Police.

    More

    Maryland State Police are investigating an apparent homicide that occurred this afternoon in Princess Anne. The victim is a male believed to be in his thirties, although troopers are still working to identify him. Anyone with more information is being asked to call Maryland State Police.

    More
  • Dover Business Owners Sound Off During Downtown Tour

    Dover Business Owners Sound Off During Downtown Tour

    Dover business owners on Monday gave their thoughts on conditions in the downtown area during a tour by city officials and members of the Downtown Dover Partnership.

    The Monday morning tour was aimed at getting feedback from local business owners and operators about the positives and negatives of having stores along places like Loockerman Street in the heart of Central Dover.

    More

    Dover business owners on Monday gave their thoughts on conditions in the downtown area during a tour by city officials and members of the Downtown Dover Partnership.

    The Monday morning tour was aimed at getting feedback from local business owners and operators about the positives and negatives of having stores along places like Loockerman Street in the heart of Central Dover.

    More
  • Golden Retriever Show Attracts Thousands to Salisbury

    Golden Retriever Show Attracts Thousands to Salisbury

    The 2017 Golden Retriever Club of America National Specialty is coming to Salisbury. The events will take at the Wicomico Civic Center as well as the Crown Sports Center in Fruitland.

    More

    The 2017 Golden Retriever Club of America National Specialty is coming to Salisbury. The events will take at the Wicomico Civic Center as well as the Crown Sports Center in Fruitland.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices