Officials with the Maryland Health Connection released new enrollment numbers last week as they ramp up efforts to let people know about the upcoming open enrollment period, but questions remain concerning whether the state's new system will work, or whether residents who found it difficult or impossible to register under the old system will have an easier time this year.

Problems with the health care exchange last year led to the state cancelling the contract it had with the vendor and starting over with a new vendor. The software is the same as that used in the Connecticut exchange, and officials have said that they will stagger the rollout as a way to avoid major problems that occurred during open enrollment last year.

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Critics say the state should have just switched to the federal health exchange instead of investing tens of missions of additional tax dollars with this vendor.

Last week the Maryland health Connection touted the fact that nearly 458,000 Marylanders have enrolled for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. As of Sept. 29, the Connection said, 376 people had gained Medicaid coverage in 2014. Additionally, 81,091 people have enrolled in qualified health plans.

But with open enrollment beginning next month, all those people will be looking at their coverage, many changing plans to meet their evolving health care needs and new people will be signing up. The last thing that they need is to have to endure the problems that they encountered last year, even on a smaller scale.

As we get closer to that enrollment period, it is essential that the Governor and state leaders demand greater transparency from the Maryland Health Connection. Regional numbers on enrollment, total costs involved, problems that are being encountered and how those problems are dealt with are essential elements needed to get a complete picture of the success or failure of this new system.

November's election will bring in many new faces, including in the Governor's mansion and many state Senate and Delegate races. It is essential that we do not have a repeat of the problems, finger-pointing and secrecy that came with the original rollout a year ago.

This year's open enrollment period will mark a new beginning for the state-run health exchange. This time, we need to get it right.

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