District 28B State Representative
Last week, Minnesotans got even more bad news about MNsure. While Governor Dayton jets off to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer dime and busies himself with discussions of removing historic Civil War paintings from Minnesota’s Capitol, Minnesotans continue to suffer under the failure of leadership that led to this point.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. Optum Health, the company that provided a free review of MNsure’s myriad problems, said that the new state agency’s “management structure… is nonexistent.”
The problems with MNsure run so deep, Optum proposed scrapping the entire system as one of three options. After spending more than $160 million of taxpayer money, Governor Dayton and Democratic lawmakers may have left Minnesotans with nothing but a broken website. Imagine if that happened where you work.
Hardworking Minnesotans need a fix before federal penalties kick in on April 1, but the Optum report said there’s no chance that MNsure will be fixed by then. That leaves us with two major problems.
First, MNsure is the only place where Minnesotans can get federal premium tax credits to offset the increased costs of premiums as a result of Obamacare and MNsure. These tax credits may be the only way some folks are going to be able to afford the high prices on MNsure.
But, MNsure’s website often tells people they’re eligible for the wrong tax credit or no credit at all, even if your income entitles you to it. In our area, MNsure prices are so expensive that people who don’t get tax credits are left with a choice of leaving a hole in the family budget or being penalized by the IRS. Not great choices.
Second, the expensive prices, frustrating call center, flailing website and complete mismanagement have left MNsure unable to attract customers.
Gov. Dayton’s administration estimated that, for 2014, MNsure’s commercial market enrollment would be as high as 270,000 households.
Unsurprisingly, that was later revised down to a goal of 102,800, with 69,904 of those being enrolled in coverage by March 31.
Today, MNsure’s most optimistic data says that just 27,775 are in the process of enrolling, and payment has been confirmed for only 18,136 of those households. That means, with more than two thirds of the open enrollment period over, MNsure is anywhere from 60 to 74 percent below its March 31 goal. These are dismal numbers.
Without meeting those enrollment goals, MNsure is going to run a significant deficit this year and into the future. That means more taxpayer money to bail them out, even though a legislative subcommittee found MNsure executives received bonuses while the agency was in total disarray.
Minnesotans are in for even more pain and frustration if those who gave us the MNsure mess don’t provide a way out. There is no reason that the government should penalize Minnesotans for not buying health insurance if the government’s method of providing it – MNsure – is completely broken.
Greg Davids represents District 28B in the Minnesota House.