It has been difficult to determine what role Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown played — or didn’t play — in the problematic launch of the state’s health insurance marketplace last year. Brown, who is now running for governor, is in charge of implementing health-care reform in Maryland, but that’s an ambiguous job without a defined set of responsibilities.
Brown and his staff have repeatedly declined to offer specifics, even as Brown’s rivals have continually criticized him for not being involved. Meanwhile, Brown’s campaign Web site touts that he has “positioned Maryland as the national leader in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
During a debate hosted by Maryland Public Television on Monday evening, moderator Jeff Salkin pushed the lieutenant governor to provide more details about his role in the exchange with this question: “Can you help us understand, maybe on a scale of one to 10, where one is out of the loop, 10 is you were in charge — How much in charge were you?”
Brown responded that while the health insurance Web site is a “big component” of the Affordable Care Act, the landmark legislation also calls for things like Medicaid expansion and growing the health-care workforce. Brown said he lead the Maryland Health Care Reform Coordinating Council, which looked at a number of issues and drafted a blueprint for creating an independent government agency that would create and run the exchange.
The exchange board is led by Maryland’s top health official, Joshua M. Sharfstein. In Connecticut, which has had one of the most successful exchanges in the country, the lieutenant governor leads the board. Maryland is now replacing its exchange with technology from Connecticut.
“In retrospect, like in Connecticut, I’d go back and say, ‘Appoint me as a member of the Health Benefits Exchange, maybe even the chairman of the exchange,’ but that’s not the role that I served,” Brown said. “But that does not mean that I didn’t have a responsibility.”
Brown said that had he been on the exchange board, rather than the coordinating council, he would have more quickly received information about potential problems with the exchange. Here’s a clip of Brown’s full answer: