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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Brian Johnson (R)

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Legislative Update

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Here is an update from St. Paul.

Legislative Auditor Releases MNsure Report

Last week, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released their report on MNsure, citing that in its first year, the exchange’s “failures outweighed its achievements.” This is regrettable for the thousands of people who used MNsure to sign up for health insurance as well as for taxpayers who spent $189 million to build the exchange.

While the report did mention that people who purchased insurance through the exchange were generally happy with the product, the criticisms by OLA showed the substantial failings MNsure exhibited after its launch in October 2013 and that the legislature needs to come together to make significant changes and improvements.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • 72 percent of MNsure enrollees surveyed already had insurance
  • Widespread problems with online enrollment and customer service caused difficulties for consumers, insurers and counties
  • MNsure did not actively test its website or make sufficient use of government technology experts before launching the site
  • MNsure staff withheld information from the MNsure Board and other key officials
  • MNsure’s enrollment targets contained errors that were never publically corrected, resulting in MNsure falsely reporting they met target enrollment goals
  • Consumer assisters and navigators did not receive proper training from MNsure and were unable to help customers facing problems enrolling online
  • In the first 11 months, one in three calls to customer service were simply abandoned by MNsure employees
  • Many enrollees were not notified of their status when signing up for health insurance, nor were they made aware if they qualified for public programs or tax subsidies

When MNsure passed in 2013, Minnesotans were promised that this would be an easy-to-use web experience that would allow people to select and purchase affordable health care. OLA revealed that our Obamacare exchange did not live up to those standards, falling far short.

While I didn’t vote for MNsure originally, I believe now is the time to put partisan politics aside and fix this massive, bureaucratic exchange. No other agency has such little oversight, and it’s time to change that. I am hopeful Governor Dayton and legislators can come to bipartisan agreement, adopting suggestions made by OLA as well as implementing other commonsense solutions to fix MNsure in Minnesota.

Deficiency Bill

On Thursday, the House and Senate passed the final version of the Deficiency Bill which will halt the excessive pay raises Governor Dayton gave his commissioners earlier this year and rein in his authority to give future pay raises.

In 2013, Democrats gave Governor Dayton the authority to raise the salaries of his political appointees. With this Deficiency Bill, legislative oversight of these executive pay raises will be restored. Commissioner pay raises are halted until July 1, at which point the governor will have a chance to reinstate those pay increases if he chooses. Hopefully after overwhelmingly hearing opposition from Minnesotans across the state on this issue, he will act more responsibly. After July 1, he will no longer have that authority.

Additionally, the bill also provides deficiency funding for several important things including $10.4 million for the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter and $2.9 million for Ebola-related expenses.

But most important, however, is that with the Deficiency Bill we are checking Governor Dayton’s authority to offer future pay raises, saving taxpayer money and bringing responsibility back to state government.


If you ever need assistance on a matter of state government, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am here to serve you!

Have a wonderful weekend.