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Audit: Maryland Misallocated $28.4M For Health Exchange

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Paying for insurance. A federal audit finds that Maryland may have wrongfully billed the federal government for millions of dollars in affordable health care funding.

But as political reporter Pat Warren explains, the state health exchange says it did nothing wrong.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is recommending the state of Maryland pay back more than $28 million to the federal government.

September 2013: Maryland was one of the first to get on board.

"We have chosen to be an early implementer of the Affordable Care Act," former Governor Martin O'Malley said in 2013.

The O'Malley Administration and President Obama's affordable heath care plan worked hand-in-hand during the days leading up to the health exchange roll-out.

October 2013: Maryland's website is among the first to fail. The roll-out and revamping cost millions of dollars and hours of frustration for Marylanders trying to sign up and the original website was scrapped for a new one.

Now a federal audit shows the state may have been reimbursed for more people than actually signed up.

"Yeah. Basically, this first audit result, the one released today, showed that the state claimed that they had signed up more people in the private exchange than they did and billed the federal government for that money and accepted that money," said U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, (R) 1st District.

Maryland Congressman Andy Harris doesn't think it was a mistake.

"The two explanations are it was either incompetence or they intentionally tried to deceive. Neither of those are good," he said.

Carolyn Quattrocki of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange says neither is true.

"In terms of the $28 million they talk about, it's not that we weren't entitled to that money, it's just that we drew it down from a different pot of federal money than they think we should have. But we followed federal guidance. We worked very closely with the federal government," she said.

And the audit found no fraud or criminal wrongdoing.

That doesn't mean it ends there. The matter is still under review.

A statement from Governor Hogan says he looks forward to reviewing the inspector general's report to get a more thorough understanding of the findings.

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