HHS inspector general to review Md. health exchange after congressman requests probe

The inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to review Maryland’s troubled online health insurance marketplace, according to a Republican congressman who called for an investigation into the tens of millions of dollars the state spent on the system, which has been marred with technical glitches and might soon be replaced or abandoned.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) received a letter from the Office of the Inspector General stating that a review of some sort would occur. Since then, aides said that Harris’s staff has been told that a review would begin promptly and would likely cover questions that Harris raised in his original request: how federal money was spent, how contractors were hired, who provided oversight and whether the federal government can recoup any of its money.

“I have confidence that the nonpartisan and independent HHS Inspector General will thoroughly investigate and bring to light how hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted on one of the worst exchange rollouts in the country,” Harris said in a statement Monday.

Harris has been an adamant critic of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In mid-February, Harris and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) sent a letter to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services and asked for an immediate “formal investigation into the flagrant waste and abuse of taxpayer monies.”

Donald White, a spokesman for the Office of the Inspector General, would not comment specifically on the call for a Maryland review. Joshua Sharfstein, Maryland’s secretary for health and mental hygiene, said Monday that he also could not comment on the matter.

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
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