Sept. 16, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Massachusetts Latest Blue State Facing Exchange Failure

The project relied on a commercial, off-the-shelf product from Oracle rather than a more customized approach. To save money, Oregon decided it would serve as its own systems integrator.

The decision not to hire an outside integrator “departs from best practices,” according to the independent report and caused a lack of accountability on the project. That, in turn, contributed to a delay in defining requirements and unrealistic delivery expectations. The report noted that one state official described Oregon as having “the most robust scope of any exchange.”

The report also found poor communication with the governor’s office about problems. Kitzhaber was told on July 31, 2013 that a “staged launch” may be needed on Oct. 1 and that the project remained on track. But on Sept. 30 Kitzhaber’s office was told the website would not be up and running on Oct. 1

Unwinding state online sites is no simple matter, however.

Using the Connecticut IT platform would allow Maryland to be ready for the fall, state officials say. But it also means spending another $40 million to $50 million, they noted. That’s about what Maryland would have to spend to develop a Medicaid eligibility and enrollment system that would work with the federal exchange. Maryland hopes to use federal dollars to do that but it’s unclear whether HHS will permit that.

Massachusetts is in a similar bind. The official said that the two track plan would cost $100 billion through 2015. There’s no certainty HHS will approve federal money for that, either. Massachusetts is hoping it will be able to switch back to its own website in 2016.

Massachusetts already has near-universal health coverage under a 2006 state law signed by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. State officials have continually struggled to upgrade the online marketplace, called the Massachusetts Health Connector, so it can meet the requirements of the health care overhaul.

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