Hello from the State Capitol,
On Tuesday of this week, the Legislative Auditor released his long awaited report on MNSure. One of only thirteen states to have its own Obamacare exchange, Minnesota taxpayers have spent nearly $200 million to build MNSure. The non-partisan Legislative Auditor’s report concluded that, “MNSure’s failures outweighed its achievements.”
The Legislative Auditor found that Minnesota has a healthcare exchange that failed to perform its basic function—help Minnesotans easily sign up for health insurance for themselves and their families. From the website’s launch in October of 2013 up through this year, the site has been beleaguered with numerous technical issues. To make matters worse, the report found that MNSure employees withheld information from the MNSure board and executives that detailed the extent of the technical issues. During its first year, numerous customers were not made aware of their enrollment status or whether they were eligible for tax credits or public assistance. This left many individuals in limbo as they waited to receive word on whether they were signed up or not. To make matters worse, the call center, which was to provide assistance for customers experiencing problems, performed terribly. The report found that 58 percent of enrollees spent at least 4 hours on the enrollment process and another 75 percent reported “significant” technical problems. Additionally, over a third of calls were simply dropped.
Also in the report was news that MNSure has failed to meet, repeatedly lowered, enrollment projections at every turn with public enrollments having far outpaced private enrollments, which the exchange relies upon to fund its operations. The governor and Democrats promised that the tax on plans sold through MNSure would be 2 or 2.25%, but they have already raised the tax to 3.5%. To make matters worse, Governor Dayton has asked the legislature for more funding to cover MNSure’s budget shortfall.
For better or worse, MNSure is a reality here in Minnesota. Minnesotans deserve an exchange that works well and has a positive user experience. House Republicans have offered a plan that would address many of the problems facing MNSure and work to ensure fair access and affordable health care for all Minnesotans. I am hopeful that we, the Governor and Senate are able to come together to fix the problems that continue to plague MNSure.
Bills Receive Committee Hearings
I had two bills, that I am authoring, heard in committee this past week.
On Tuesday, House File 209 was heard before the Greater Minnesota Economic Workforce Committee. HF 209 allows Dodge County to leave the Southeast Minnesota Multicounty Housing Authority, which they have been trying to do for 20 years, and again have local control.
The bill was passed out of committee and was sent to the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee.
On Wednesday, House File 361 was heard in the Health and Human Services Reform Committee.
Presently a person with disabilities is discouraged from working hard and becoming independent, because they can not earn a dollar over a preset limit, or they lose a support program or pay a large fee. HF 361 establishes a bridge to freedom and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Instead of not working more hours or accepting a raise, from fear of penalties, they would split the extra income with a sliding fee copay. This allows a person to move forward and work through to independence.
This bill was passed out of the HHS Reform committee and was sent to the Health and Human Services Finance Committee.
Thank you to the constituents and groups that took the time to visit me in St. Paul this week. It was great to meet with all of you, learn about your lives, and discuss your thoughts on issues here at the Capitol.
Rebecca Covington, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
Brian Smith, Juvenille Detention Alternative Initiative
Len Price, Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa
Steele-Waseca Co-Op Electric
Tim Patter and Greg Kaiser from Pepsi in Rochester
Representatives from Dodge and Olmsted County Farm Bureaus
Matt Limoges, Rochester Area Builders
Jane Olive and other constituents for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts Day on the Hill
Staying In Touch
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you ever have questions, concerns, or comments on any number of issues related to the legislature. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-9236 or via email at email@example.com.