MNsure chooses new contractor for website in advance of audit

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The state health insurance exchange, MNsure, has contracted with a company that will take over the agency’s website and technical operations.

The Star Tribune reports MNsure Interim CEO Scott Leitz announced the contract Wednesday.

As MPR News reported in February, MNsure has suffered from poor management and software failures.

As the problems mounted, MNsure's original executive director, April Todd-Malmlov, resigned in December. The agency then hired Interim Executive Director Scott Leitz.

More recently, MNsure has touted its success in enrolling more than 181,000 Minnesotans in health coverage, but questions remain about its long-term ability to generate revenue and function as originally promised.

MNsure officials haven’t disclosed the identify of the winning bidder, or the cost of the new contract, and won’t do so until the deal is approved by federal officials.

Leitz told the Star Tribune he expects the new company to start work later this month, the Star Tribune reports. 

Seven companies submitted bids on the multimillion-dollar contract, including Engagepoint, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company that has been coordinating technical work on the health insurance exchange since the Minnesota officials took project management duties from its original contractor last year.

That company, Maximus, is not among the current bidders. Engagepoint was originally hired to design billing and other financial management activities for MNsure.

The list of bidders for the new contract also includes Deloitte Consulting LLC, which bid on the original MNsure contract but was unable to come to terms with the state on a deal. Deloitte was hired by four of the 14 other states that chose to build their own insurance exchanges, including a well-regarded system in Connecticut that will soon be implemented in Maryland, the paper reports. 

The announcement comes on the heels of another by the state’s legislative auditor Wednesday that he plans to conduct a thorough, independent review of the troubled launch of Minnesota's health insurance exchange.

"The evaluation will be a comprehensive, in-depth evaluation of many issues related to the development of the website but also many other issues as well," Legislative Auditor Nobles told a House-Senate MNsure oversight committee. 

The exact scope of the inquiry is still being determined, he says.

Republican lawmakers had hoped to use Wednesday's hearing to raise questions about what Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and other administration officials knew about MNsure's problems in the weeks before its Oct. 1 rollout, and when they knew it.

But they said afterward that they're confident Nobles will do a thorough job, The Associated Press reports. 

Reached for comment, a MNsure spokesperson said the office "welcomes" the review. "We are happy to cooperate fully as they examine MNsure's operations, and in the interest of complete transparency, we are prepared to comply with any request they make of us."

MNsure must be financially self-sustaining in 2015. The agency is funded from a small percentage of premiums paid to commercial health insurers.

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