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O’Malley Says Maryland Will Meet Health Care Goal

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(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

CBS Baltimore (con't)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley is acknowledging a troubled start for Maryland’s online health insurance exchange, but he predicted Sunday that the state will still meet its enrollment goal by the end of March.

In an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union”, O’Malley said the online health insurance exchange faced complex technology challenges every step of the way. But he said the state is more than halfway to its enrollment goal.

Medicaid enrollments have exceeded expectations. But the state has said it wants to enroll 150,000 people in private plans by the end of March. As of Jan. 4, only 20,358 people had enrolled in private plans.

O’Malley said the state will meet its goal for a combined 260,000 enrollments in Medicaid and private insurance. The website is functioning better and works for most citizens, while other problems are still being resolved, he said.

Maryland plans to decline an offer by the federal government to take over part of the state’s troubled health exchange to fix the remaining problems, at least for now, O’Malley said. State officials had considered the offer since June, he said.

“The problem is there was no assurance at that time that the federal website was going to work any better,” O’Malley said. “And it didn’t.”

The Maryland website is not functioning better for people who are signing up for Medicaid than the federal site, O’Malley said. The time to evaluate the future of the Maryland site will be after the enrollment process, he said.

Also on Sunday, The Washington Post reported that senior state officials failed to heed warnings for more than a year of trouble with Maryland’s health exchange, even while it was touted as a model for the nation. There were early warnings of missed deadlines and that no one seemed to be fully in charge of the $170 million project. Key leaders quit, and there was feuding between contractors that led to lawsuits.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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