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Lawmakers renew call to scrap MNsure after latest glitches

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After more problems affecting Minnesota's health insurance customers, two Republican lawmakers are calling for MNsure to be scrapped.

The state's health insurance exchange, set up as Minnesota's answer to the federal Affordable Care Act, has come under attack again this past week after it was revealed that technical glitches led to a backlog of 180,000 people in the state whose insurance failed to auto-renew.

KSTP reports that two Republican House members on Monday called on Gov. Mark Dayton to abandon Minnesota's own health exchange in favor of one run by the federal government.

"We have to admit MNsure has not worked and starting moving away from it and move people over to the federal health exchange program," Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, told the TV station.

MNsure has endured a bumpy start, with its first year of operation being beset by system glitches that made it difficult for people to enroll in insurance products.

Meanwhile the most recent backlog has affected the renewals for 180,000 who qualify for insurance provided via Medicaid or MinnesotaCare – the state's publicly subsidized insurance. Although these people are still covered, they have not been able to pay their premiums, causing concerns that many will be hit with hefty bills once the backlog is cleared.

Rep. Davids, who chairs the MNsure legislative oversight committee, is being joined in his crusade to scrap the exchange by Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, who told MPR News that MNsure is an "unnecessary problem" that does more harm than good.

"If MNsure was a private company, the state of Minnesota would not allow them to do business with the practices that they currently have," he told the news station. "It's unacceptable and we need to step in to try to help the Minnesotans currently who are left in the lurch."

'Fundamental changes' needed

The Star Tribune reports that at the very least, the lawmakers want "fundamental changes" to the way MNsure is run, and want the MNsure oversight committee to meet soon to discuss a way forward.

But Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick, told the newspaper that proposed changes should come from a task force set to deliver recommendations to lawmakers next year. He also said moving to the federal system wouldn't solve the problems with the state's Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs.

WCCO notes that Gov. Mark Dayton has previously said he wants to wait until January to talk about changes, which is when a Blue Ribbon Health Care Commission Report is released.

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