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Maryland Health Care Exchange kept documents secret

The state health care exchange is using the disclosure clause the Maryland Public Information Act to justify its own secrecy regarding its documents. The exchange is so reticent to share its information, that, in an April report by the Office of Legislative Audits, it was noted that around 26 percent of documents were redacted, and that the documents relating to procurement and contracting were very heavily redacted. To be clear, this report is separate and distinct from the current audit being done of the state health care exchange.

This report admitted that, due to the amount of documents and more importantly the redaction of the documents, that very few conclusions could be made regarding who made decisions, how decisions were made, and how contracts were awarded, among other things. These documents were made so threadbare as to prevent the April audit from meeting professional auditing standards.

Why is the health care exchange trying to apply disclosure laws in reverse? MarylandReporter.com suggests that “Heavily censored documents routinely arriving after the 30-day limit suggest a powerful political bloc in Maryland is motivated to protect Anthony Brown’s reputation by ensuring all inquiries into the exchange’s problems are delayed until after the election.” Anthony Brown, Lt. Governor of Maryland and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate, was heavily involved in the rollout of the health care exchange and the many problems involved in the rollout.

MarylandReporter.com also tried, independently of the audit, to obtain documents and verify the quality of the work being done by and on the Maryland health care exchange. They solicited documents relating to two contractors involved in the exchange, Berry Dunn and Angarai International. The site says that “The exchange, in two tersely-worded letters issued more than a month after the statutory deadline, denied that it was responsible for releasing any of the thousands of records we asked for.” The exchange invoked “executive privilege” and “deliberative process privilege” in denying the requests, and did not further clarify. Executive privilege is often a common rationale in covering things up- Nixon used it during the investigation into Watergate.

The documents do not fall under guidelines that allow for withholding documents relating to computer security. Watchdog Wire has obtained three PDFs, all heavily redacted, relating to Angarai International. In order: one, two, three

Featured image from Shutterstock

Brad Matthews

Brad Matthews is the Digital Content Coordinator intern for Watchdog Wire. Twitter is @bradmatthewsDC

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Categories: Audits, Government Transparency, Healthcare, Open Government, Transparency

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