Maryland is falling behind other states with its own Obamacare health exchange reported the Washington Post yesterday. Hat tip: Don Irvine via twitter.
Here is the sorry tale (emphasis mine):
Maryland is wrestling with stubborn technological problems with its online insurance exchange, posting weak enrollment even as other states have signed up thousands of consumers for plans under President Obama’s new health-care law.
In October, the exchange’s first full month of operation, 1,278 people signed up for the private plans, and 465 signed up in the first week of November. Those low numbers raise questions about whether Maryland will achieve its enrollment target of 150,000 by the end of March. The state has about 800,000 uninsured residents.
Backup options, such as paper applications, are proving time-consuming and cumbersome. Front-line helpers must manually enter information from paper applications into electronic ones, using an internal state Web page available from only some government buildings. That puts access out of reach for many helpers working at community organizations.
The Maryland exchange’s rocky start is in marked contrast to some other states running their own marketplaces, including California, Connecticut and Kentucky.
The O’Malley Administration blessed Obamacare early:
Maryland’s stumbles were unexpected, given that the state was one of the earliest and most enthusiastic supporters of the Affordable Care Act.
No worries for 10% of Maryland’s 800,000 uninsured, they will automatically be signed up for Medicaid—yippee!
Some states that have not enrolled large numbers of people in private plans have signed up tens of thousands of individuals for Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and disabled. In Maryland, more than 80,000 people in a special health plan for low-income residents will automatically be enrolled in Medicaid coverage starting Jan. 1.
Does that mean 80,000 new voters too?
Although there is no mention of O’Malley’s political future being on the line, the WaPo does mention a possible set-back for O’Malley’s right hand man.
The problems have become fodder in the race to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). State Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) is blaming the missteps on his chief Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who played a leading role in implementing the law.