Healey says Connector probe focused on relief for taxpayers

BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Attorney General Maura Healey’s investigation into the Health Connector is “separate and apart and different” from a federal probe that sent subpoenas to the Baker administration back in January, she told reporters Thursday.

“Our focus in our office has been and will continue to be on securing relief for taxpayers,” Healey said after attending a memorial for Massachusetts members of the military who gave their lives for their country. She said, “Any questions about the other really should be put to federal authorities. I’m just focused on our investigation and our look is separate and apart and different from that.”

The Pioneer Institute wrote to the FBI and other federal officials last October alleging that the botched 2013 rollout of an Affordable Care Act compliant website involved duplicity to the extent that federal crimes may have been committed.

Healey repeatedly deflected questions about whether a crime may have been committed, saying her focus is on making sure taxpayers are protected and conducting an investigation around the False Claims Act, which allows for civil fines and the recovery of money for fraudulent claims against government agencies. She said the investigation commenced under the prior administration of Martha Coakley.

CGI Technologies and Solutions Inc. missed deadlines and delivered a faulty product, according to Pioneer, which claims state officials at the time covered up the problems and said CGI may have been illegally paid more than $50 million.

“What happened at the Connector was a mess. We know it was a mess, and that’s why the action was taken under the prior administration to look at this issue,” Healey said.

Coakley, who also attended Thursday’s ceremony, has taken a job as counsel at the firm Foley Hoag, where she said she hopes to work on civil and criminal litigation and “regulatory work around health care, energy.”

The career prosecutor said it is “possible” she could represent a criminal defendant in a trial or other proceeding while deferring to Healey on questions about whether crimes may have been committed at the Connector.

“I think that’s a question for the current attorney general,” Coakley said.

Federal authorities can practice secrecy when in the midst of an investigation and a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday about subpoenas issued to the Baker administration and a state medical school in Worcester.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School did some work coordinating the health exchange project, managing the contract and reporting finances, but the project was “governed” by the Connector and the Office of Health and Human Services, spokesman Mark Shelton told the News Service in an emailed response to questions. The school also responded to a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office, he said.

Shelton said UMass did not select the vendor or negotiate contracts and the administration and the Connector “approved all deliverables” before payments were made to vendors.

“As a consequence of UMass Medical School’s role in managing contracts, budgets, financial reporting and procurement, it has been asked by state and federal agencies – including the Connector and EOHHS – to compile and provide information, background documentation, reports and correspondence relevant to the [health insurance exchange/integrated eligibility systems] project, and it has done so, most recently in response to a subpoena from the US Attorney for materials,” Shelton said.

In its budget deliberations this week, the Senate rejected a proposed amendment calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the Health Connector. The Senate also rejected a Republican bid to expand the size of the Connector board and to place into the Connector’s statute the requirement that it abide by the open meeting law and require reporting of the “return on investments made by the connector.” The amendment would also have required financial records, contract, and staff salaries be made publicly available on the website of the connector.

While calling it an agency that “we’ve had a lot of problems with,” Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, a Newton Democrat, said the Connector is already subject to the open meeting law and cited privacy concerns in arguing against the GOP amendment, which failed on a 16-23 vote.

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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