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Health exchange contractor's top executive terminated

A top executive with the company Maryland hired to build its health exchange website — and later dumped — has been terminated on the heels of heavy financial losses.

Paul von Ebers, president and CEO at Noridian Mutual Insurance Co., was let go after a unanimous board vote Monday.


Noridian Healthcare Solutions is an affiliate of the North Dakota company and was responsible for more than $50 million of the company's $80 million in losses last year, said Andrea Dinneen, a company spokeswoman.

Maryland had paid the company about $55 million before cutting its ties in February. Maryland exchange officials blamed Noridian, its prime contractor, for using unworkable "off-the-shelf" technology. They have since said they will ditch the site and adopt technology used in Connecticut, hiring Deloitte Consulting LLP for $40 million to $50 million.


Exchange and state officials, including Gov. Martin O'Malley, also said they plan to seek reimbursement of payments because the website never worked properly after crashing on the day it launched Oct. 1. Users faced frozen screens and lost applications, and the exchange had to extend the open enrollment period to process thousands of people stuck in the system.

The exchange eventually enrolled almost 314,000 people, including almost 68,000 in private plans sold on the website, using a variety of work-arounds including paper applications.

Noridian and its subcontractors have denied the state's claims, saying problems in part were due to change orders from the exchange and a lack of leadership — criticism used against Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown in the campaign for governor because he was the state's point person on health care reform.

Noridian's board declined to discuss the termination.

"The board felt it was necessary to make a change at the CEO position in order to ensure confidence in the future financial direction of our organization," said Ann McConn, the Noridian board chair, in a statement.

Noridian appointed Tim Huckle, chief operating officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, to serve as interim president and CEO. Noridian Mutual Insurance Co. does business in North Dakota under the Blue Cross name.