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Lt. Governor Anthony Brown’s failed leadership cost taxpayers nearly $200 million dollars, embarrassed President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, and left Marylanders without access to health care. But don’t expect Anthony Brown to take responsibility for the botched health exchange rollout.

The buck doesn’t stop with Anthony Brown.

“Do me a favor, don’t show me invoices like this,” Brown told FOX45 when asked to explain the spending.

WBFF Fox 45: Vague Health Exchange Invoices Include $42K Spent for Social Media Assistance

When WBAL TV reporter Jayne Miller tried to interview Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown about the Maryland Health Exchange, saying “May I ask you my question?” Anthony Brown said “No.”

Her question: “Who should be responsible for what has been called an embarrassment?”

WBAL TV 11: Lt. Governor Brown Dodges Questions On Maryland’s ACA Website Failure

“So, it’s not a termination or cancellation. We’re really talking about renewal notices.”

WBAL TV 11: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown Sunday Q-&-A guest

Fact Check
Brown Claim: “The truth is Anthony Brown worked to get over 295,000 Marylanders quality, affordable healthcare by helping to organize a staff surge and replacing vendors that failed to deliver” [The Baltimore Sun, 04/10/14]

TRUTH: Only 66,302 Marylanders enrolled in the broken exchange, roughly 120,000 short of the 180,000-enrollee goal set by Lt. Governor Brown himself. The rest were Medicaid enrollees, many of whom were automatically enrolled – not thanks to Lt. Governor Brown’s touted leadership. The exchange was so badly mismanaged that Maryland abandoned it altogether. As for the staff surge and vendor claim, Brown has been completely absent from oversight committee meetings. Failed leadership at its worst.

Brown Claim: “Maryland exceeded its enrollment goal.”

TRUTH: Maryland Didn’t Even Reach Half Its Goal.

According to data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Maryland enrolled 45 percent of its enrollment target of 150,000 people in private plans. [New York Times, HHS Data, Updated 5/01/14]

Maryland ranked 45th in the nation in terms of percentage of enrollment goal reached. [New York Times, HHS Data, Updated 5/01/14]

As of April 19, 2014, the exchange had enrolled 67,757 people in private plans. [Baltimore Sun, 5/02/14]

Brown himself had initially set a goal of enrolling 180,000 people in private plans. [Lt. Governor Brown press release, 9/03/13]

TRUTH: Maryland Health Exchange Signed Up 16 Percent of Potential Enrollees

In May 2014, the Baltimore Business Journal reported that the Maryland health exchange had signed up 16 percent of the state’s potential enrollees – which ranked Maryland the 8th lowest in the nation.

The Baltimore Business Journal reported “Just under 67,800 people bought insurance through the Maryland Health Connection out of an estimated 419,000 potential enrollees, giving Maryland one of the lowest Affordable Care Act signup rates in the U.S.” [Baltimore Business Journal, 5/02/14]

TRUTH: When President Obama Touts National Enrollment Figures – More Than 8 Million Enrollees – He Doesn’t Play Games with Medicaid Numbers to Get There.

Brown Claim: “Lt. Governor Brown has led the effort to establish a Maryland-based health insurance exchange that reflects the needs of all Marylanders.” [Brown campaign website, 4/03/14]

TRUTH: “There is no one person functioning as the overall Program Manager for the MHBE effort.” [BerryDunn IV&V report, 2/26/13, excerpt included in report from Office of Legislative Audits, 4/03/14]

Brown Claim: The exchange “will be a transparent marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop and compare insurance products and receive tax credits and subsidies to purchase quality insurance.” [Brown campaign website, 4/03/14]

TRUTH: “The oversight and governance structure that may have existed to oversee and steer the HIX development process was not apparent in the documents we received.” [Office of Legislative Audits, 4/03/14]

Brown Claim: “What I support is a open, transparent, and comprehensive review of the health benefit exchange.” [Fox 45, 3/24/14]

TRUTH: ”Based on the lack of information regarding resource management in the documents submitted, we were unable to adequately evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy with which resources were used and internal controls were in place to manage MHBE finances.” [Office of Legislative Audits, 4/03/14]

Brown Claim: “No red flags were brought to my attention … about the inability of the exchange to launch on October 1st.” [CBS DC, 12/07/13]

TRUTH: Reports from consultant BerryDunn established 46 risks and 48 issues, of which 9 risks and 28 issues were outstanding as of September 30. According to the OLA report, “Many were designated as high-impact risks and issues, covering many aspects of the HIX system development process, including project management, software development, and system testing and security.” [Office of Legislative Audits, 4/03/14]

Brown Claim: Anthony Brown “Took Real Action to Correct Course.”

On his campaign website, accessed in May 2014, Brown claimed he both reorganized the leadership at the exchange and fired those responsible. [Anthony Brown, “Get the Facts,” accessed 5/05/14]

TRUTH: Brown Was the Leadership of the Exchange

In December 2013, WBAL reported that “Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown was in charge of the rollout of health care reform in Maryland, and he was happy to talk about it until recently, when many have wanted to know why it’s been so rocky, WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller said.” [WBAL, 12/05/13]

TRUTH: Rebecca Pearce Received Pay Raise After She Resigned

In February 2014, the Baltimore Sun reported that Rebecca Pearce, the former director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, received a salary increase after she resigned under pressure. [Baltimore Sun, 2/07/14]

Brown Claim: Brown is providing “Vendor Accountability” and “has encouraged a comprehensive and transparent review”

Brown’s new webpage claims, “The Lt. Governor has encouraged a comprehensive and transparent review of what went wrong to ensure Maryland learns lessons on how to avoid problems like this in the future.”

TRUTH: Vendors Weren’t Fired Until Almost Five Months After Site Failure.

Maryland did not fire its lead contractor Noridian until February 23, 2014 – five weeks before the March 31 enrollment deadline – and almost five months after the site’s initial catastrophic failure. [Washington Post, 2/24/14]

TRUTH: Leadership Is About Taking Responsibility, Not Blaming Vendors.

As a top tech official in Connecticut told the Washington Post, “But officials in Connecticut said officials who run state exchanges must ultimately take responsibility when things go wrong.
‘That’s not a problem with the vendors; that’s a lack of leadership,’ said James Wadleigh, top technology officer with the Connecticut exchange and a former official with Hartford-based Cigna Health and Life Insurance. ‘At Cigna, if I said, ‘It’s the vendor’s fault,’ at the end of the day someone would have asked for my badge and said, ‘Here’s a severance package.’” [Washington Post, 5/4/14]

TRUTH: Brown Refuses to Release Health Exchange Emails.

Brown’s office cited executive privilege for not releasing emails sought in a public information request by The Sun. The newspaper asked for emails between Brown and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the agency in charge of the exchange.” [Baltimore Sun, 12/10/13]

In December 2013, the Baltimore Sun editorialized that Brown should release the emails related to his leadership of the Maryland health exchange website. “Which is more important to him, ensuring Marylanders’ opportunity to determine who is responsible for the health insurance exchange debacle or avoiding the possibility that he will be embarrassed by what they find?” [Baltimore Sun, 12/11/13]

In February 2014, the Baltimore Sun again noted that Brown had cited executive privilege in refusing to disclose emails related to the health exchange. “But all of that left some major holes in the public’s understanding of what went wrong and who was responsible. In particular, it’s notable that The Sun’s public information act request turned up no emails between Mr. Brown and the state workers developing the insurance exchange in the two weeks before and after the launch. Some unspecified number of messages were withheld under an executive privilege exemption. The same exemption was used to avoid disclosure of an unknown number of other emails among high-ranking state officials.” [Baltimore Sun, 2/18/14]

TRUTH: A State Audit Could Not Determine the Identity of Decision-makers or Propriety of Procurement Process.

According to an April 2014 report released by the Office of Legislative Audits, due to information withheld in its review of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the OLA could not determine the propriety of the Exchange’s procurement process nor the identities of the Exchange’s key decision-makers.

The following quotes are extracted from the OLA’s report:

“Furthermore, documents did not shed light on who (whether an individual or group of individuals) was responsible for making key decisions regarding project direction and results and whether a go/no go meeting was held before the go-live date on October 1, 2013 as recommended by BerryDunn.”

“Based on documents reviewed, we could not determine the specific individuals who were providing executive leadership via the Team and Committee.”

“We could not determine the propriety of the contract award as certain key documents, such as documents relating to the advertisement, technical evaluation, and award were either redacted or not provided.” [Office of Legislative Audits, Report on Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, 4/03/14]

TRUTH: Brown Said “Do Me a Favor. Don’t Show Me Invoices Like This”

In March 2014, when Fox 45 asked approached Brown with a question about the health exchange’s expense invoices, Brown responded, “Do me a favor. Don’t show me invoices like this.” [Fox 45, 3/24/14]

TRUTH: Washington Post Said Exchange Decision Makers “Continue to Operate Largely Behind Closed Doors”

According to the Post, “The state has adopted software from Connecticut and hired new consultants. But many of the decision makers who led the first, flawed effort remain in place and — despite criticism — continue to operate largely behind closed doors.” [Washington Post, 5/03/14]

TRUTH: Noridian Awarded Contract to Develop Small Business Exchange in Closed-Door Meeting.

“The contractor under fire for the botched rollout of the state’s troubled online health exchange for uninsured people was also hired during a closed-door meeting to develop a similar marketplace for Maryland’s small businesses — work that exchange officials acknowledge has halted.” [Baltimore Sun, 2/23/14]

TRUTH: Exchange Awarded New Contract to Deloitte Behind Closed Doors. [Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, Statement for Closing a Meeting, 4/01/14]

Brown Claim: Brown Has “A Plan To Move Forward.”

Brown claims “the state is working closely with our federal partners to share any cost going forward.” On his campaign website, Brown claimed that “Maryland is able to use Connecticut’s code for free and the state is working closely with our federal partners to share any cost going forward.” [Anthony Brown, “Get the Facts,” accessed 5/05/14]

TRUTH: Federal Government May Not Pay for $60 Million Shift to Connecticut’s Platform

Building a new insurance site is estimated to cost $40 million to $50 million, not including software and hardware expenses, exchange officials say. Consultants have said the total could go as high as $60 million.” [Washington Post, 5/03/14]

The same article noted that the federal government might not authorize use of federal dollars for the switch. “Maryland is sprinting to rebuild its malfunctioning online health insurance system on a time schedule that leaves no room for error, without the endorsement of the federal government or a clear plan for funding the project. [….]

Officials in the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) say they will find funding to pay for the project and complete it by Nov. 15, the start of the next open enrollment period. But federal authorities appear skeptical. Maryland’s top health official, Joshua M. Sharfstein, said the Obama administration is waiting to see whether the project is viable before it will authorize the use of more federal dollars.” [Washington Post, 5/03/14]

TRUTH: Maryland Did Not Obtain Federal Approval Before Switching to Connecticut’s Technology.

In April 2014, the Washington Post reported that Maryland did not obtain required federal approval before voting to replace Maryland’s technology with Connecticut’s.

“This month, the board of the Maryland Health Connection became the first in the nation to decide to replace most of its exchange with different technology. But Maryland did not obtain required federal approval before its vote. Federal officials remain uncertain whether the state exchange has the capacity to correct its problems and have not indicated whether they will give Maryland the $40 million to $50 million it says it needs to make the switch.” [Washington Post, 4/24/14]

Latest News
Political Maryland: Brown Ducks Debates: Fear of Flubbing? [5/1/14]

The Washington Post: Maryland falls short of insurance enrollment goal [5/1/14]

The Baltimore Sun: The debate debate [Editorial] [5/1/14]

The Baltimore Sun: Brown accused of ducking debates; just two by Democrats set for TV [4/30/14]

The Washington Post: Brown updates state biography to include work with wealth-management firm in 1999 [4/23/14]

The Washington Post: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown shows gall by claiming Md. is ‘leader’ on health-care reform [4/12/14]

Maryland Reporter: Analysis: Health Exchange Mess Part I: Failures in leadership [4/9/14]

Delmarva Now: Accountability needed on Md. health snafu [Editorial, 4/8/14]

Rascovar column: Stonewalling Md. Health Exchange probe [4/5/14]

The Washington Post: Maryland set to replace troubled health exchange with Connecticut’s system [3/28/14]

The Washington Post: In Maryland, official incompetence has made signing up for health coverage too much work [Column, 3/27/14]

Capital Gazette: Our say: Federal probe into health care exchange welcome [Editorial, 3/14/14]

Rascovar column: Maryland’s Obamacare fiasco continues [3/3/14]

The Washington Post: Maryland begins to put a price on health-care exchange debacle [2/27/14]

The Washington Post: Top Md. health official says contractor ‘misrepresented’ ability to build exchange [2/19/14]

The Baltimore Sun: A peek into Md. health exchange’s failed launch [Editorial, 2/18/14]

Rascovar column: Brown has a health care albatross [Column, 1/20/14]

The Washington Post: Maryland’s health Web site debacle: A scandal of incompetence [Column, 1/13/14]

The Baltimore Sun: Md. health care website still has glitches despite major fixes [12/07/13]

The Price of Anthony Brown's Failure