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State Dumps Health Exchange Contractor

Maryland has ended its relationship the North Dakota-based company that was the main contractor on the state’s troubled online health exchange.

The nine member board of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange voted Sunday night to “end the role” of Noridian Health Care, which had a $193 million contract to build and operate the system for five years.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Maryland Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein said the exchange board also is “preserving all rights to seek damages against Noridian and its subcontractors for problems with the IT system.” The online exchange, consumers' gateway to Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage, crashed the day it was launched and has had repeated problems ever since. 

The board took the action at the recommendation of Isabel Fitzgerald, Maryland's secretary of information technology. It also voted to bring on Columbia-based Optum/QSSI as the prime IT contractor. That’s the same company the federal government hired in October to fix its health insurance marketplace.