For more information contact: Peter Glessing 651-296-4230
As you may already know, MNsure – the “Minnesota Department of Obamacare” – is now open. The beginning of October also marked the deadline for the grand unveiling for the new state-of-the-art MNsure website. However, just a few minutes after the site went live, it crashed for about 30 minutes before becoming available again albeit with limited functions, widespread delays, and errors. Specifically, many reported problems with creating accounts, verifying identities, and comparing plan options. One notable delay is the "search by provider" function. The website asks users if it's important for them to keep their current doctor or clinic. When a user clicks "yes," a message appears saying the function isn't available. I imagine this has been a big problem for people who have been anxious to find out if they can keep their doctor when purchasing a plan through our state-run exchange, MNsure.
My concern level regarding whether MNsure is capable of keeping the private information of Minnesotans safe remains on “high alert”. After learning about the incident where a MNsure employee inadvertently e-mailed the names, addresses, and social security numbers of over 1,000 insurance agents to a broker’s office in Apple Valley, I remain highly skeptical that the personal information of the 1.3 million Minnesotans that MNsure seeks to enroll will be kept secure. With strong indications that health insurance and the resulting cost of healthcare will be more expensive, along with the fact that there is no guarantee you can keep your own doctor, I agree with all of my Republican colleagues that MNsure is not ready for prime time. Did you know that $150 million was spent just on creating a website and more government bureaucracy and that not a single dollar of that money has been spent on actual healthcare? Minnesotans truly deserve to expect better of their government.
A few weeks ago, a federal appellate court issued an injunction on the childcare unionization law recently enacted by the Democrat-controlled legislature and Governor Dayton. The appeals court put a halt on implementation of the law pending a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a related case out of Illinois. We found out a few days ago that the U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, take up that case. For now, Minnesota’s childcare unionization law is on hold until we hear otherwise from the federal appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court. A decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the Illinois case may come as late as June of 2014. In the mean time, I’ll continue to advocate against the forced unionization of childcare providers. Hardworking moms and dads simply cannot afford the higher costs and fewer options that unionization would impose on childcare.
TASTE OF THE LAKES EVENT
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the “Taste of the Lakes” event in Excelsior to support the ICA Foodshelf and WeCAN (Western Community Action Network) – both of which serve the Lake Minnetonka area. While our community is known to be prosperous, we too are experiencing an increasing number of families who are struggling financially and need assistance. I was so impressed with the spirit of those who attended this event who feel a great responsibility to take care of our neighbors. I look forward to working closely with the ICA Foodshelf and with WeCAN in the months and years ahead. Click here for information about the ICA Foodshelf and click here for more information about WeCan.
UTILITY SCAM ALERT
A few days ago, I received this alert from Public Utilities Commissioner Betsy Wergin regarding a utility scam and decided to err on the side of caution and share it with you. Please take a moment to read her letter below.
I am writing to alert you to a growing telephone scam affecting utility customers across the country. The scam involves telephone callers claiming to be from a utility company and then employing a variety of techniques to defraud customers. Some threaten customers with disconnecting electric service to their home or business if they don’t make a payment immediately. The scam artist instructs them to send money via prepaid card or online payment service, such as PayPal or GreenDot, before their power is shut off. The scammer’s caller-ID is falsified so it appears to originate from the utility company, a practice known as “spoofing.” Electric customers have been targeted in several States, including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and New Mexico.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) contacted NARUC seeking help to educate consumers on this growing scam, which has even caught the attention of U.S. Senator Tom Udall (NM) who sent a letter last week to the FTC urging the agency to take action. The FTC recently issued a blog post to warn consumers. The text of that post can be freely reused and/or modified and is available at: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2013/09/utilityscam.shtm. The FTC advises consumers that receive suspicious calls to call their utility directly to verify the request for payment. Obviously, consumers should be urged to report suspicious calls to both State commissions and the FTC.
Commissioner, Minnesota PUC
As always, you can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact me by phone, call (651) 296-4315. Mail can be sent to Rep. Cindy Pugh, 313 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota 55155.
Please encourage your neighbors and friends within the district to sign up for occasional email updates during the interim by clicking here and filling out your contact information. Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you!