Md. Senate OKs Bill On Health Exchange Problems

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The General Assembly is on its way to the rescue of hundreds of Marylanders locked out of the health care exchange by computer glitches.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports on emergency legislation passed by the Senate on Tuesday.

Thousands went to the health exchange online and hit a wall.

“Something in the system or something is not working,” one woman said.

Trying to sign up for health care without the website working made thousands of Marylanders eligible for retroactive policies.

The deadline to sign up for health exchange policies retroactive to Jan. 1 was 5 p.m. Tuesday.

As of Sunday, 458 Marylanders had registered.

But the estimated number of people who tried and failed to sign up online is 5,000. The Senate passed emergency legislation Tuesday that allows them to enroll in the Maryland Health Insurance Program, usually reserved for those who can’t get policies due to pre-existing conditions.

The cost to taxpayers is estimated between $5 million and $10 million.

“We need this MHIP option that is in front of you to make sure that no one slips through the cracks,” said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. “The average cost to the state will range from $400 to $700 per person per month depending on the individual’s plan and the subsidy.”

While the Senate passed the bill, lawmakers still want answers for the boondoggle.

“This is not anything about corruption or malfeasance. It might be about incompetence,” said Mike Miller, Senate President. “Private business people would have been fired. Certainly not the way government should operate, and we can do better.”

As of Jan. 11 more than 22,500 had enrolled in private plans and another 29,500 in Medicaid.

The bill now goes to the House.

Emergency legislation takes effect immediately after the governor signs it.

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