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Dayton defends MNsure amid GOP questions

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Gov. Mark Dayton is accusing critics of MNsure of waging a propaganda campaign in an effort to destroy it.

Dayton’s comments followed an announcement by GOP members of a legislative oversight committee who said they wanted to use a hearing Wednesday to raise questions about the troubled launch of MNsure last October, The Star Tribune reports.

At a press conference, Dayton called that a "farce."

"The MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee isn't a 'farce,' it's the law," said Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, and Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, in a statement. "It's clear we need more oversight,” The Pioneer Press reports. 

Dayton in turn accused Republicans of "making a mockery of oversight" in pushing for last-minute testimony from former administration officials on the subject.

"I think that was the right decision," Dayton said during a news conference at the Capitol. "I didn't have any inkling of persisting problems until the middle of November."

In comments to reporters, Dayton said he received a warning from MNsure on Sept. 19 that the health exchange website might not be ready to go-live on Oct. 1. But by the final weekend in September, final checks suggested MNsure was ready to launch from both an operational and security perspective, Dayton said.

But, the governor says, his team addressed many of the problems. Rather than focus on what happened six months ago, he says, the important thing is that over 175,000 Minnesotans used MNsure to get health coverage, including many who didn't have it before.

"We made errors, I'm sure," Dayton said, adding that he supports a review of MNsure by the Office of the Legislative Auditor. "Hindsight makes it easier to identify those,” The Pioneer Press reports.

The Legislative Auditor’s office has launched two limited examinations of MNsure, which will look at how the health exchange spent the more than $150 million in federal grants it received and the security of its website.

And the state’s insurance exchange has also come under scrutiny in Washington.

MNsure interim CEO Scott Leitz and five of his peers from other state health insurance exchanges testified last week at a House committee hearing looking into problems with the federal health care law.

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