O’Malley says delay in insurance exchange launch was considered for ‘about 30 seconds’

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Thursday night that he considered “for all of about 30 seconds” suggestions that the state delay the Oct. 1 launch date of its online health insurance exchange.

“It just didn’t seem to make any sense to me to hold up on launching it,” O’Malley (D) said. “We’ve got a six-month window (to enroll people), and I wasn’t going to piddle away two months waiting for everybody to become perfectly content that everything was perfect.

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O’Malley’s comments to reporters followed an appearance at the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Cambridge, Md.

Earlier Thursday, while updating reporters in Annapolis on the state’s efforts to fix major glitches in the exchange, the governor relayed that he had briefly considered a two-month delay suggested by some officials overseeing the project. In the briefing, O’Malley presented a largely upbeat assessment of efforts to fix the technological problems that users have encountered when trying to sign up for health plans, including frozen screens.

In a similar briefing in Annapolis two weeks ago, O’Malley said that the decision to move forward with the Oct. 1 launch was his. He did not share details at that point about the deliberations leading to his decision.

Maryland is among the states that decided to launch its own online marketplace rather than rely on the federal exchange.

O’Malley, speaking to reporters in Cambridge on Thursday night, downplayed the consideration he gave to a delay and said he had only a vague recollection of what the concerns were that were presented to him.

“I don’t really even remember it,” O’Malley said. “At the time, some people said, ‘Look, we’re worried that perhaps this, that or the other thing might not be in place,’ and I said, ‘No, we’re launching.’ ”

“We had gone through so many tests, jumped through so many hoops that the federal government put out,” O’Malley said. “They’d been building for this for a year. We weren’t going to delay a launch.”

O’Malley said he “considered it for all of about 30 seconds and said, ‘No, we’re not delaying, we’re going forward.’ ”

He said he’s confident he made the right call.

“If we hadn’t launched, we wouldn’t have fixed the site, you know, by now,” O’Malley said. “We would have waited two months and then found out all the problems two months later.”

 
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