- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - Federal authorities have subpoenaed records related to the Massachusetts Health Connector, including a period covering the breakdown of the health care exchange’s website, The Associated Press has learned.

“The administration received a subpoena regarding the Health Connector’s difficulties dating back to 2010 and we are fully cooperating with the Department of Justice,” said Elizabeth Guyton, a spokeswoman for Gov. Charlie Baker, in a statement to The AP.

The administration said the subpoena came from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston shortly after Baker took office in January. No other details were provided, and it was not clear what information was being sought from the agency.

The U.S. Attorney could not confirm or deny an investigation, according to a spokeswoman for the office.

Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation health care program served as a model for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. But the state’s transition to the federal program in 2013-2014 proved disastrous, forcing the administration of former Gov. Deval Patrick to place hundreds of thousands of residents into temporary Medicaid coverage.

The website eventually was overhauled and relaunched last November. Officials say it has been functioning better, though technical glitches remain.

Baker, who took office in January, has been critical of the connector and blamed the breakdown in the website for contributing to state budget woes. He moved to take control of the agency in February by asking for and receiving the resignations of four members of the connector board.

“It’s no secret that the health connector has underperformed over the last few years and that has had real consequences for the people of the commonwealth as well as the taxpayers of the commonwealth,” the governor said at the time. He also named a new executive director, Louis Gutierrez, to lead the agency.

The connector spent much of 2014 trying to recover from the botched rollout of the website that was created to merge the state’s existing health care law with the federal law.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the Affordable Care Act, granted the state several waivers from the requirements of the new law while it worked to fix the website.

The state severed ties last year with CGI Group, the original lead contractor on the website. After considering a transition to the federal health insurance marketplace, the connector opted instead to purchase software from hCentive, a Virginia-based firm that helped set up functional exchanges in other states.

CGI, which also was the lead contractor on the federal health care website that struggled out of the gate, was paid $52 million of an original $89 million contract with the state.

Joshua Archambault, director of Health Care Policy at the Pioneer Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, said he welcomes any further review of the connector breakdown.

“Citizens should demand accountability of public officials that left us with this mess, and try to prevent this from becoming an IT version of the Big Dig,” he said.

Massachusetts would not be the first state to come under scrutiny for problems with its health insurance exchange.

A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas seeking records related to Oregon’s exchange, known as Cover Oregon, which spent $300 million in federal grants but never launched a working online enrollment system.


Associated Press writers Steve LeBlanc and Jonathan J. Cooper in Salem, Oregon contributed to this report.

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