Dayton on MNsure problems: “the buck stops here”

Gov. Mark Dayton discusses MNsure issues during a State Capitol news conference. (Tim Pugmire/MPR News)

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton wouldn’t say today whether he asked April Todd-Malmlov to resign earlier this week as director of Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange.

Dayton declined to answer the question several times during a state Capitol news conference, which was his first public appearance since Todd-Malmlov tendered her resignation Tuesday. Dayton said he has indirect influence over the MNsure board and had publicly expressed his displeasure with recent enrollment problems. But he stressed that the independent MNsure board has sole authority over personnel decisions.

“I have to operate under that legal parameter, just as everyone else does,” Dayton said.

Dayton said he’s been closely involved with MNsure for several months, speaking regularly with board members and others. He said his focus now is getting MNsure in the shape Minnesotans have a right to expect.

“I apologize to those Minnesotans who have been seriously inconvenienced or made distraught by the failure of MNsure,” he said. “That’s unacceptable, and we’re going to do everything we can around the clock to correct that.”

Republicans who oppose the exchange have been blaming Dayton for its enrollment troubles, and they’ve urged Minnesotans to hold him accountable. Dayton, who is up for re-election next year, said he didn’t cause the MNsure problems, but “ultimately the buck stops here.”

“We’ll see how it comes out in the next few weeks. Next November Minnesotans will assess pluses and the minuses as they perceive them in my performance. It’s premature for me to say what that judgment will be. We’ll see.”