The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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State, national news

December 18, 2013

MNsure deadline may be delayed

ST. PAUL (AP) — Leaders of Minnesota's health insurance marketplace said Wednesday they might postpone next week's deadline to enroll for January coverage after a chaotic rollout of the state program that led to the resignation of its former executive director.

April Todd-Malmlov, who had led Minnesota's marketplace since its inception under the federal health care law, abruptly resigned Tuesday without a severance package. She faced criticism for taking a vacation to Costa Rica last month amid problems with a buggy website, long helpline waits and erroneous data sent to insurance companies.

Minnesota, a historically progressive state, fully embraced the state-run health exchange advocated in President Barack Obama's signature domestic proposal. But the state's troubles with the rollout of its program in some ways mimicked problems experienced during the rollout of the federal exchanges for states that didn't create their own.

Scott Leitz, an assistant state human services commissioner appointed to replace Todd-Malmlov as MNsure's interim CEO, said the state has increased the number of call center employees in recent days. An IBM division that's one of the main MNsure contractors promised an additional 80 employees to work on-site with MNsure to tackle continued technological problems.

"We acknowledge people have struggled with the website," Leitz said. "There have been times people have been frustrated. We've had long wait times. These are operational issues that need to be addressed, and they will be."

Brian Beutner, the chairman of the MNsure board of directors, said Wednesday that it was under consideration to postpone next Monday's enrollment deadline for those who want coverage starting Jan. 1. Beutner and Leitz stopped short of guaranteeing that every Minnesotan who wants coverage starting Jan. 1 will have it, but said anyone who selected and paid for a plan can count on coverage.

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