Harris: Health Overhaul in Maryland Grows Into Investigation - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Harris: Health Overhaul in Maryland Grows Into Investigation

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A federal audit of Maryland's badly flawed health care exchange website has developed into a "full-blown" investigation, and subpoenas have been issued, a Maryland congressman said Tuesday.

Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland's only Republican congressman, had asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General in February to look into the state's health exchange website. Chris Meekins, a spokesman for Harris, said the congressman's office received the new information during an update late last month on how the audit was proceeding.

"The Office of Inspector General has moved this from an audit into a full-blown investigation," Harris said in the statement. "The investigation has included the issuing of subpoenas. I called for the audit of the Maryland exchange because tens of millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted, and those who wasted them should be held accountable."

Harris also was quick to mention Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's role as a leader in the health care exchange rollout. Brown, a Democrat, is running for governor.

"Lt. Gov. Brown was in charge of the exchange, and it appears fraud may have gone on under his watch," Harris said. "Those who wasted and abused taxpayer money, including politicians, must be held accountable."

Justin Schall, Brown's campaign manager, reacted strongly to the congressman's statement. He said neither Brown nor anyone in his office has received any communication or requests from the office of the inspector general or any other federal agency.

"It's disappointing that Congressman Harris would mislead the people of Maryland and play political games with a federal investigation, but it is clear that the Republicans will say anything to achieve their extreme right-wing agenda," Schall said in a statement.

Meekins said the extent of the subpoenas remains unclear, but they relate to companies initially involved in setting up the health care exchange. Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration has blamed vendors hired by the state for not delivering the product they promised.

Maryland's health exchange website crashed almost as soon as it opened on Oct. 1. The state was not able to fully fix the many problems that plagued it for months, but the state stayed with it through the first open enrollment period that ended May 31. Maryland is in the process of revamping the website for the next enrollment period.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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