Md. health exchange, political fallout up in the air

WASHINGTON — To Maryland congressman John Delaney, it’s simple: “The Maryland health exchange doesn’t work.” And on Tuesday, the Maryland health exchange board will meet to vote on the future of the exchange.

Who will be politically affected by the roll out of the exchange, which some have deemed sloppy? Different observers point in different directions.

To Shane D’Aprile, editor of Campaigns and Elections magazine, the fallout could hit Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, now a candidate for governor, hardest.

“There is certainly the possibility that it could stick, if indeed the board votes to scrap it, as it looks like will occur,” D’Aprile says. “Already you’ve got 125-plus million dollars spent.”

Maryland’s online health exchange has been troubled with computer glitches ever since its debut on Oct. 1.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has said the Connecticut health-exchange program is a better model.

But Todd Eberly, associate professor of political science at St. Mary’s College, says that O’Malley’s presumed 2016 presidential campaign will be weakened by the exchange situation.

Eberly says that O’Malley’s strength was his image as the tech-savvy mayor of Baltimore who adopted data-driven policies and advanced the idea that “government could be a competent partner, and at least with regard to the exchange, that was anything but competence.”

D’Aprile expressed a similar opinion.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Obamacare’s going to be a big issue [in the 2016 election], and if you are from a state that has had a problem with implementation and rollout, it’s going to be an issue,” she says.

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WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed this report.

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