NewsRadio 920 WHJJ and the Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The head of Rhode Island's insurance marketplace says the state would likely face "very serious questioning" from federal officials if it abandoned HealthSource RI and transferred operations to the federal government.

Director Christine Ferguson told a House panel Wednesday it's unclear whether there would be a financial penalty for giving up on HealthSource. The state has gotten some $140 million in federal funds to build and initially operate it.

Rhode Island would no longer run HealthSource under a bill pending before the panel. Rep. Patricia Morgan says the state can't afford it.

Federal lawmakers have held hearings on failed marketplace launches elsewhere. Ferguson says she would expect similar questioning if Rhode Island walked away from HealthSource, which is considered a model.

Ferguson has said abandoning it would be a mistake.

SHUTTERSTOCK Dave Newman