The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

February 24, 2014

GOP intent on highlighting health care woes

(Continued)

In Michigan, Democratic Rep. Gary Peters is trying to win the open seat currently held by retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin.

But local woes have provided fodder for some Republicans, like Harris and Walden, as the GOP looks to maintain its steady drumbeat of criticism.

Maryland is one of 14 states that chose to run its own exchange, but it has been beset by technological problems, reports of ignored warnings before its start Oct. 1 and a price tag that could exceed $250 million in state and federal dollars. Even Democratic officials have raised the possibility of perhaps abandoning the state operation and switching to the federal online site to sign up individuals.

In the meantime, Harris and Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., two members of the House Appropriations Committee, wrote to HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson on Feb. 12 requesting an investigation "into the flagrant waste and abuse of taxpayer monies that were spent and are continuing to be spent for the creation of the Maryland health insurance exchange and online marketplace."

As of January, the most recent enrollment numbers show Maryland signed up 29,059, far fewer than its target of 93,000.

In Oregon, the state exchange website known as Cover Oregon is still plagued with problems, with individuals unable to compare policies and sign up. More than $300 million in federal grants to the state have gone to the website and its future is in doubt.

Walden, who chairs the committee to elect Republicans to the House, along with Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter Feb. 12 to the GAO seeking an investigation.

The state exchange "has been such a technological failure that even now, months after the start of the open enrollment period, the site is unable to enroll anyone," Walden and Upton wrote.

As of January, 33,808 had signed up for health insurance in Oregon, nowhere near the projected goal of 146,940.

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