MNsure CEO tells Congress problems ironed out, system is successful

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MNsure's interim CEO faced aggressive questions from a Congressional panel Thursday, but insisted Minnesota's insurance exchange has put its problems behind it.

Scott Leitz and his peers from five other state health insurance exchanges testified at a House committee hearing looking into problems with the federal health care law. Forum News Service reports the first several questions were directed at Leitz and focused on bonuses paid to MNsure executives even as last fall's rollout of the system was marred by website failures and an overloaded call center.

Leitz confirmed the bonuses, which were arranged under the director he replaced. Leitz told Republican Paul Gosar of Arizona changes made at MNsure in the last few months have created a system he described as "stable, secure, and successful," Forum News reports. Leitz said software that was working successfully 70 percent of the time in December now has a success rate over 99 percent.

MinnPost notes that after the initial flurry of questions about MNsure, the panel's focus drifted away from Minnesota toward other states – notably Maryland and Oregon – that have battled more stubborn problems.

The political overtones of the hearing held in the Republican-controlled House were not disguised. The meeting was entitled "Examining Obamacare’s problem-filled state exchanges." Forum News says Democratic members praised the witnesses, with one commenting that they'd turned lemons into lemonade.

The Washington Post's Wonkblog is wondering how many Americans who signed up for insurance just before the open enrollment period ended last week will follow through by paying for it. The Post says Leitz testified that in Minnesota so far 95 percent of those signing up have paid. Leitz said he expects that percentage will grow larger, though a spokesman later told the Post that is an opinion rather than a prediction.

MNsure announced on Monday that nearly 170,000 Minnesotans applied for health insurance through the system. That exceeds the original goal by 35,000.

Now that the open enrollment period has ended, MPR looks at six lingering questions that confront MNsure.

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