- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Maryland congressman announced Tuesday that the inspector general for the federal Department of Health and Human Services has issued subpoenas to get to the bottom of what went wrong with his state’s Obamacare exchange.

Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican and no fan of President Obama’s signature law, said the move demonstrates that the probe has shifted “from an audit into a full-blown investigation.”

“I called for the audit of the Maryland exchange because tens of millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted, and those who wasted them should be held accountable,” he said.

Mr. Harris accused Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, a Democrat, of failing to properly oversee the Maryland Health Connection, one of 15 state-run health exchanges that launched last fall.

“Lt. Gov. Brown was in charge of the exchange, and it appears fraud may have gone on under his watch,” Mr. Harris said.

Mr. Brown is running for governor. His campaign manager, Justin Schall, said in a statement Tuesday that the lieutenant governor’s office has not “received any communication or requests from the office of the Inspector General or any other federal agency.”

“It’s disappointing that Congressman Harris would mislead the people of Maryland and play political games with a federal investigation, but it is clear that the Republicans will say anything to achieve their extreme right-wing agenda,” Mr. Schall said in a written statement.

The state’s healthcare exchange has likewise not received any subpoenas for information, said spokesman Chris Garrett.

“We’re in close communication with the IG and helping in every way we can,” Mr. Garrett said.

Obamacare’s health exchanges are web portals where eligible consumers can shop for private health plans, often with the help of income-based government subsidies.

Maryland’s portal was among several that faced severe glitches during the law’s inaugural sign-up period and had to be overhauled.

The state is looking at technology from Connecticut, which had a relatively smooth rollout, as it prepares for open enrollment to begin again in mid-November.

Mr. Brown’s Republican rival in the governor’s race, Larry Hogan, seized on Tuesday’s announcement to attack the lieutenant governor.

“Taxpayers deserve to know how Anthony Brown and his colleagues were able to waste $200 million in tax dollars on a website, why no one acted to correct problems with the exchange until it was too late, what happened in all those closed-door meetings and whether contracts were improperly awarded,” Mr. Hogan said.

Andrea Noble contributed to this report.

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