GOP leaders raise MNsure concerns

State Senate GOP Leader David Hann (left) and House GOP Leader Kurt Daudt discuss their concerns about MNsure enrollment during a State Capitol news conference. (Tim Pugmire/MPR News)

Republican leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate are calling on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton to answer key questions about the state’s new health insurance exchange.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, and Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, want the governor to reassure all MNsure applicants that they will have coverage beginning next year, even if they haven’t received an insurance card.

The initial sign-up period deadline is next week. Both GOP leaders oppose the federal health care law that allowed the state exchange, but during a State Capitol news conference today, Daudt said he was concerned for the people trying to enroll.

“This is the direction that the governor took health insurance in the state of Minnesota,” Daudt said. “That was his decision, and whether or not that was the right decision is a debate for a different day. At this point, we kind of have to triage and make sure we’re doing the things necessary to make sure that people have health insurance on January 1.”

Dayton’s press secretary, Matt Swenson, described the GOP event as “unsurprising” and “unproductive.” In a written statement, Swenson also stressed that MNsure is governed by an independent board.

“MNsure and other state agencies have been engaged in an around-the-clock effort to ensure that those who need coverage have it on January 1st,” Swenson wrote.  “Gov. Dayton has been very clear that the current state of the exchange is unacceptable, which is something he has expressed clearly to the board and to the public.”

Also Monday, one of the Republicans who hopes to run against Dayton next year called on MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov to step down for taking a two week vacation at the end of November.  Scott Honour said normally he would call on Dayton to replace the director, but the law that created MNsure does not allow that.

“As someone who comes from the business world, I can tell you that one of the defining characteristics of any successful organization is accountability,” Honour said.  “I can’t imagine the head of a company being on vacation during a major product rollout.  So for the head of MNSure to be on vacation in Costa Rica during the troubled rollout of a government program that affects the lives of almost every Minnesotan is beyond belief.”

For much of the day Monday the MNsure website posted a page saying it was unable to process new applications for insurance beginning on Jan. 1.