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Last-minute surge in signups ahead of MNsure Monday deadline

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With the Monday deadline to enroll for health insurance through the state exchange fast approaching, MNsure officials are urging Minnesotans to sign up.

Officials are also asking for understanding.

MNsure is reporting a last minute surge in calls to the MNsure Contact Center.

Officials say callers could experience longer wait times on hold.

“Our number one priority is getting Minnesotans covered in quality, affordable health coverage,” says interim CEO Scott Leitz. “We know call center wait times will increase and so we ask people for their patience, and urge them to take action immediately.”

MNsure spokesman John Schadl says the call center had received nearly 1,400 calls as of 1 p.m. Thursday, and callers were experiencing average waits of just under eight minutes.

That's up from around six and a half minutes earlier in the week.

But he says calls are typically answered within a couple minutes, KSTP reports.

MNsure advises people concerned about wait times to call early in the day or over the weekend.

In a press release, MNsure is also asking people not to call to simply confirm receipt of the MNsure Enrollment Attempt Form.

The mayors of St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth have declared Friday "MNsure Day" in an effort to encourage more people to sign up before the deadline.

Minnesotans have until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 31 to enroll.

Missing the deadline means facing possible federal tax penalties of $95 or one percent of annual income – whichever is greater.

MNsure has so far enrolled around 150,000 Minnesotans in coverage.

Interim MNsure CEO Scott Leitz has been invited to testify before the U.S. House Oversight Committee, at a hearing on troubled state health insurance exchanges, MPR News reports.

In a statement, Leitz said he's happy to comply and will tell the committee Minnesota has among the lowest insurance premiums in the country.

Also invited are representatives from health exchanges from Oregon, Maryland, Hawaii and Massachusetts.

In addition to the hearing, Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, is reportedly sending letters to 10 governors, including Mark Dayton.

According to MPR, the letter will seek internal documents and communications between state employees and contractors and Obama Administration officials that relate to insurance exchanges from May 1, 2013, to present.

MNsure has been plagued with problems since the health insurance exchange went online Oct. 1.

In addition to website glitches, MNsure struggled with call center problems and troubles with management. Though in the past month, wait times and site issues have dipped.

Leitz, a former assistant commissioner in the state Department of Human Services, replaced MNsure CEO April Todd-Malmlov in December. That executive resigned after a KSTP report revealed she vacationed in Costa Rica in November despite multiple problems with health insurance exchange.

According to the Pioneer Press, 14 managers at MNsure collectively received more than $26,000 in bonuses in November after the launch of the health exchange website.

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