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Published November 15, 2013, 09:25 PM

Fargo-based Noridian sued by subcontractor on $51 million Maryland health exchange project

FARGO – Noridian Healthcare Solutions is embroiled in legal action with a Florida firm over disputes involving the two firms’ efforts to establish an online health insurance marketplace for the state of Maryland.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

FARGO – Noridian Healthcare Solutions is embroiled in legal action with a Florida firm over disputes involving the two firms’ efforts to establish an online health insurance marketplace for the state of Maryland.

Noridian, affiliated with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, is the contractor hired to establish the Maryland online exchange under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The Fargo-based firm won the $51.2 million contract to build the Maryland health benefit exchange last year.

Noridian hired EngagePoint Inc., a software firm in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as a subcontractor. On Oct. 25, Noridian severed its $250,000-a-month contract with EngagePoint, alleging the company failed to perform as required.

The same day, EngagePoint filed a lawsuit in Maryland state court seeking to bar Noridian from “soliciting, seeking to hire, or hiring any EngagePoint employees.”

The case was transferred to U.S. District Court in Baltimore, where EngagePoint’s restraining order was denied on Oct. 29, according to court documents.

Meanwhile, the next day Noridian filed a counterclaim, alleging EngagePoint had failed to provide project data and information Noridian needed to provide uninterrupted services to Maryland.

EngagePoint contends Noridian, in violation of its contract, solicited some of its employees working on the Maryland exchange project, including sending letters to the employees.

In its answer, Noridian admits it has continued to “solicit, seek to hire and/or hire” EngagePoint employees, but the company denies any wrongdoing and says its activity is consistent with a federal judge’s order.

Noridian’s counterclaim contends EngagePoint has failed to live up to termination conditions in its contract.

Requests for comment sent to EngagePoint and its lawyers Friday afternoon were not immediately returned. Noridian, citing the pending lawsuit, declined to comment.

More than 4,600 consumers have enrolled in health insurance plans through the Maryland Health Connection since open enrollment started Oct. 1, according to the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis.

Officials for the Maryland exchange declined to talk about the lawsuit, but have expressed frustration that enrollments have lagged behind projections, a problem that has plagued the federal exchange and some state exchanges.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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