Gansler decries ‘mismanagement’ of Maryland health exchange in letter to GOP senator


Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) offered fresh criticism Thursday of the way that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration has handled Maryland’s online health insurance exchange, saying in a letter to a Republican senator that “the taxpayers ... have been poorly served by the Executive Branch’s mismanagement.”

Gansler, a Democratic candidate for governor, wrote that he is “deeply troubled” by the tens of millions of dollars that have been “wasted while hard-working Marylanders have suffered from the botched rollout.”

Gansler was responding to a request by Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick) to conduct an investigation into the exchange. The site crashed on its first day and has yet to work as planned, greatly hindering enrollment in private health insurance plans.

“Unfortunately, my Office does not have free-standing investigative authority to uncover who in State government should be held accountable for mismanagement, malfeasance, and waste,” Gansler wrote on his office’s letterhead. “Within the boundaries of our statutory authority, however, we are doing all we can to explore what remedies are available to recover taxpayer funds, including filing an action for damages against the contractors responsible for building the Exchange Web site, who were selected by the administration.”

As a candidate for governor, Gansler has been highly critical of the state’s rollout, most often pinning blame on his chief Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D). Brown was tasked by O’Malley (D) with overseeing the implementation of federal health-care reform in Maryland.

O’Malley’s office did not immediately respond Thursday afternoon to inquiries about Gansler’s letter.

In the letter, Gansler was also critical of the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly, noting that he had joined Brinkley in requesting they launch an investigation into what went wrong with the state’s exchange.

Instead, Gansler wrote, the Democratic leaders appointed an oversight panel, which “merely monitors the progress of the so-far disappointing efforts to fix the exchange.” Gansler called that “a poor substitute for a thorough,independent investigation.”

“The Maryland people deserve to know the full story, and to know who is responsible for this disaster, and the oversight committee is not going to find that out,” Gansler wrote.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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