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Maryland Obamacare exchange spent $90 million on technology before abandoning website

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Maryland has given up on its Obamacare website, but not before spending $90 million of taxpayer funding on technology, according to a cost breakdown released Friday.

Of the $90 million, exchange board Chairman Joshua Sharfstein said that the marketplace spent $55 million on the website itself, The Washington Post reports. Officials opted in late March, after six months of struggling with the inoperable system, to give up on fixing the website and start over again with a model of Connecticut’s more successful exchange website.

Maryland’s Obamacare exchange received millions in federal taxpayer dollars to build its Affordable Care Act website and was even awarded early innovator grants that earned it even more taxpayer funding. But the website crashed on the first day of open enrollment and officials have been unable to fix it.

The late decision won’t help anyone who hoped to sign up for health insurance on the exchange for 2014. The open enrollment period in Maryland closes Friday, with a special exception for more than 18,000 people who have already requested extra time to sign up due to the website’s problems. Sharfstein said Tuesday that the exchange will serve these customers, whether or not they get to it before the extended deadline.

Sharfstein released the exchange’s budget details Friday. Officials spent $129.8 million by March 26 to create and host the exchange as a whole, not just the website, which financial officials reported Tuesday. But the newly released breakdown reveals that technology — including the website that’s already been tossed aside — cost a whopping $91.7 million, mostly paid to Noridian Healthcare Solutions.

Maryland spent $49.9 million on the development of the exchange; $11 million for hosting the website; $3 million for maintenance; and $8.1 million on a small business exchange, which has not yet been launched.

Assorted costs outside of the massive technology budget included salaries at $6.4 million; advertising at $6.2 million; additional consultants for $3.2 million; training at $3.3 million; and a combined $13.3 million for navigators, assisters and call centers for those seeking help with the health care law and the shoddy state website.

Maryland’s contract with Deloitte will cost between $40 million and $50 million, the Baltimore Sun reports. It’s not clear where the money will come from, though, according to The Washington Post. Sharfstein has said Maryland may legally recover money from Noridian and others that built the exchange, but may also ask for even more federal grants.

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