Md. Breaks With Exchange Website Contractor Over Technical Errors

February 26, 2014 in News

On Monday, the board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange announced that it has fired Noridian Healthcare Solutions as the prime contractor for the state’s health insurance exchange website after the vendor missed a series of deadlines to repair it, the Baltimore Sun‘s “Maryland Politics” reports.

Background

Noridian was the lead developer of the website, which crashed shortly after it launched on Oct. 1 and has continued to have technical problems. The problems have caused Maryland to fall behind on its goal of enrolling 260,000 people before the March 31 deadline to purchase coverage (Cox/Dance, “Maryland Politics,” Baltimore Sun, 2/24).

During a recent meeting of the Maryland Board of Public Works — which includes Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) — state officials described problems they have encountered with Noridian. Thomas Kim, deputy secretary of operations at the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said Noridian “severely misrepresented the maturity” of the system that it could build with off-the-shelf software. Kim added that the company did not disclose that it outsourced the project’s leading role to an unauthorized subcontractor, EngagePoint, under a profit-sharing agreement (Flaherty/Johnson, Washington Post, 2/19).

During the MHBE board meeting, the panel agreed to end its $193 million contract with North Dakota-based Noridian and replace it with Maryland-based Optum/QSSI. The state hired Optum/QSSI — the general contractor for the federally run HealthCare.gov — in December 2013 as a general contractor for the state exchange. An individual familiar with the discussions said a “very rapid handover” would occur before Noridian ends all work over the next week (Flaherty/Johnson, Washington Post, 2/24).

Officials said the change would help more state residents enroll in coverage through the exchange before the March 31 deadline.

Noridian Responds

Noridian President and CEO Tom McGraw defended his firm and its work, noting that it implemented “163 infrastructure fixes and performance tuning activities and identified and completed 445 enhancements and bug fixes” during its time as a primary contractor (Howell, Washington Times, 2/24).

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