Archived Story

Health exchange goes live Tuesday

Published 12:41pm Monday, September 30, 2013

ST. PAUL — Don’t expect that a flood of uninsured Minnesotans will immediately sign up for health coverage on Tuesday, the day that MNsure.com opens for business.

“We’re going to have a lot of lookers, I don’t think a lot of takers right away,” said April Todd-Malmlov, executive director of Minnesota’s newest state agency, set up to deliver new federal health insurance policies to Minnesotans.

Insurance coverage purchased through Minnesota’s online health insurance exchange won’t kick in until Jan. 1, and those seeking immediate coverage on that date have until Dec. 15 to sign up. But that cushion hasn’t stopped a flurry of activity to make sure MNsure is ready for its customers — from last-minute security training for dozens of government employees and private contractors who will handle private information, to daily briefings for Gov. Mark Dayton, who has much at stake in its success.

“It’s one thing to start a small business in obscurity and, if successful, expand it over time and you learn from your mistakes in ways that are not so visible,” Dayton said. “This is starting a huge enterprise from day one under the glare of the public spotlight with all of these people who are wanting it to fail and casting it in the worst possible way.”

Approved by Congress in 2010, President Barack Obama’s effort to expand health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans has divided Democrats and Republicans like few other issues. Republicans in Washington have continued to fight it, with 42 separate votes in the GOP-controlled House to defund it. And their counterparts in Minnesota have raised concerns about MNsure and its operations.

A few recent missteps haven’t helped. Earlier this month, a MNsure employee breached security by sending an email that included Social Security numbers and other private information belonging to 1,500 Minnesota insurance agents to an agent in Burnsville. Todd-Malmlov has said the breach wasn’t linked to the computer systems that MNsure customers will use. She said those will be as secure as private websites where people enter personal information, like banks.

Still, the agency has been busy providing security training for employees, the private “navigators” who will get financial incentives to help people sign up, and case workers with Minnesota counties who will also help certain groups of people enroll. That training was still in progress at the end of last week; Todd-Malmlov said she had hoped it would be done sooner, but many of the computer systems that require training haven’t been up and running for long enough.

“MNsure is not ready for prime time,” said state Rep.

Peggy Scott, a Republican from Andover. Critics also keyed on the slow distribution of grants to groups that will help enroll people in MNsure, which were still in the works even at the end of last week. Scott and other Republicans have sought a delay in MNsure’s launch.

Within a few years, the state forecasts that about one in five Minnesotans, or about 1.3 million people, will buy their insurance through MNsure, including about 300,000 people who don’t have insurance now. Senior citizens covered by Medicare will continue to get their insurance that way. Most people who get insurance through their employer will continue to do so, though businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be eligible to insure them through MNsure.

Under the federal law, people who don’t have health insurance will face a tax penalty starting a few months into next year. People with lower incomes will be eligible for tax subsidies to help cover their costs, and studies have shown that most new enrollees won’t end up paying any premiums. Those participants will still be responsible for co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs.

Under the rate structure, a family of four with an annual household income below $31,300 would likely qualify for free health insurance. Free coverage would also extend to people earning between $15,000 and $17,000.

MNsure will have some plans with monthly premiums as low as $91. Rates are based on a variety of personal circumstances, including age, location in the state — southeastern Minnesota is forecast to have higher rates than elsewhere — family size and tobacco use. Supporters hope the federal law brings down health costs overall, but they have acknowledged it’s likely to mean higher premiums for some participants.

MNsure’s leaders don’t expect heavy enrollment in the first few weeks, but they plan to closely track customer interactions with both their website and call center. Todd-Malmlov said tracking both levels of participation as well as customer concerns from different parts of Minnesota will guide future outreach and marketing efforts. “We do certainly think there will be a lot of traffic immediately, because people are curious,” she said.

Members of MNsure’s board of directors have downplayed expectations for initial enrollment, some even advising prospective customers to wait a bit before signing up. Board member Thompson Aderinkomi said as with any new technology, people might want to wait for kinks to be worked out. “There’s nothing wrong, actually, in asking people not to sign up right away,” he said.

  • Walt Henry

    When I was a kid I thought if we could send people into space and return them to earth alive and within sight of the pickup ship we could do anything. All we had to do is sit and think of all the possibilities of everything that could or would happen. When I went to college I learned no one can know everything about anything. Turns out the best engineers on the space program still needed to run tests and after those tests more tests and then trials after trials. That’s the nature of trying new ventures. Everyone knows that. Another thing we all know as well, when the countdown gets to zero we press the button and launch. Those who seek to delay have had since the passage of ACA over three years to make changes. In the last election when those who wish to see ACA launched out numbered those who did not and the Republican, the minority, have had 10 months to compromise, cooperate and make changes to make it better. Instead they voted again and again to eliminate and replace with nothing. Now is the time to launch and even if the government does a partial shutdown Obamcare will launch right on schedule.

    • Jan

      Amen!

  • Walt Henry

    Government shuts down. The bank accounts of 800,000 shoppers will be at least one working day smaller this Christmas shopping season. This is a good thing for the “Job Creators” the Republicans so blindly try to support? But Obamacare starts up. (Mnsure goes live this afternoon)

  • Richard Olson

    “I can sympathize with House Republicans because once my mom wouldn’t let me get candy at the store, and then I burned down the whole city.”

    Rob DenBleyker

  • Walt Henry

    Just to clarify something–the House Republicans are saying they are looking to delay the Obamacare/ACA mandate for a year. What they are not telling you is the mandate, (the enforceable requirement individuals have health insurance) doesn’t go into effect for 3 months. (Jan 1st. so there was a delay already built into the law) BTW–common sense would indicate a delay for businesses with many employees makes sense for there is lots to consider and the rates didn’t get released until today. Is it that complicated for individuals? I think not.

  • drbellows

    A
    retired Constitutional lawyer has read the entire proposed health care bill.
    Read his conclusions and pass this on as you wish. This is
    stunning!
    The Truth About the Health Care
    Bills
    Michael Connelly, Ret.
    Constitutional
    Attorney
    Well, I have done it! I have read the
    entire text of proposed House Bill 3200: The Affordable Health Care Choices
    Act of 2009. I studied it with particular emphasis from my area of
    expertise, constitutional law. I was frankly concerned that parts of the
    proposed law that were being discussed might be unconstitutional. What I found was far worse than
    what I had heard or expected.
    To begin with, much of what has been
    said about the law and its implications is in fact true, despite what the
    Democrats and the media are saying. The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where
    senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care
    for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced
    participation in abortions by members of the medical
    profession.
    The Bill will also eventually force
    private insurance companies out of business, and put everyone into a
    government run system. All decisions about personal health care will
    ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats, and most of them will not be
    health care professionals. Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and
    allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled by the
    government.
    However, as scary as all of that is, it
    just scratches the surface. In fact, I have concluded that this legislation
    really has no intention of providing affordable health care choices. Instead it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer
    of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred, or
    even been contemplated. If this law or a similar one is adopted, major
    portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been
    destroyed.
    The first thing to go will be the
    masterfully crafted balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and
    Judicial branches of the U.S. Government. The Congress will be transferring
    to the Obama Administration authority in a number of different areas over
    the lives of the American people, and the businesses they
    own.
    The irony is that the Congress doesn’t have any authority to legislate in most of those areas
    to begin with! I defy anyone to read the text of the U.S. Constitution and find any authority granted to the members of
    Congress to regulate health care.
    This legislation also provides for
    access, by the appointees of the Obama administration, of all of your
    personal healthcaredirect violation of the specific provisions of the 4th
    Amendment to the Constitutioninformation, your personal financial
    information, and the information of your employer, physician, and hospital.
    All of this is a protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures. You
    can also forget about the right to privacy. That will have been legislated
    into oblivion regardless of
    what the 3rd and 4th Amendmentsmay provide.
    If you decide not to have healthcare
    insurance, or if you have private insurance that is not deemed acceptable to
    the Health Choices Administrator appointed by Obama, there will be a tax
    imposed on you. It is called a
    tax instead of a fine because of the intent to avoid application of the due
    process clause of the 5th Amendment. However , that doesn’t work because since
    there is nothing in the law that allows you to contest or appeal the
    imposition of the tax, it is
    definitely depriving someone of property without the due process of
    law.
    So, there are three of those pesky
    amendments that the far left hate so much, out the original ten in the Bill
    of Rights, that are effectively nullified by this
    law.
    It doesn’t stop there
    though.
    The 9th Amendment that
    provides:
    The enumeration in the
    Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage
    others retained by the people;
    The 10th Amendment
    states:
    The powers not delegated to the
    United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are
    preserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Under the provisions
    of this piece of Congressional handiwork neither the people nor the states
    are going to have any rights or powers at all in many areas that once were
    theirs to control.
    I could write many more pages about
    this legislation, but I think you get the idea. This is not about health
    care; it is about seizing power and limiting
    rights.
    Article 6 of the
    Constitution requires the members of both houses
    of Congress to “be bound by oath or affirmation to support the
    Constitution.” If I was a member of Congress I would not be able to vote for
    this legislation or anything like it, without feeling I was violating that
    sacred oath or affirmation. If I voted for it anyway, I would hope the
    American people would hold me accountable.
    For those who might doubt the nature of
    this threat, I suggest they consult the source, the US
    Constitution, and Bill of Rights. There you can see exactly what we are
    about to have taken from us.

    Michael Connelly
    Retired attorney,
    Constitutional Law
    Instructor
    Carrollton ,
    Texas

    • Phaedrus

      “The judgment of the one group that mattered, the U.S. Supreme Court,upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in June 2012.”

      So while Micheal Connelly is entitled to believe whatever he wants, the matter has already been settled.

  • drbellows

    A
    retired Constitutional lawyer has read the entire proposed health care bill.
    Read his conclusions and pass this on as you wish. This is
    stunning!
    The Truth About the Health Care
    Bills
    Michael Connelly, Ret.
    Constitutional
    Attorney
    Well, I have done it! I have read the
    entire text of proposed House Bill 3200: The Affordable Health Care Choices
    Act of 2009. I studied it with particular emphasis from my area of
    expertise, constitutional law. I was frankly concerned that parts of the
    proposed law that were being discussed might be unconstitutional. What I found was far worse than
    what I had heard or expected.
    To begin with, much of what has been
    said about the law and its implications is in fact true, despite what the
    Democrats and the media are saying. The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where
    senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care
    for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced
    participation in abortions by members of the medical
    profession.
    The Bill will also eventually force
    private insurance companies out of business, and put everyone into a
    government run system. All decisions about personal health care will
    ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats, and most of them will not be
    health care professionals. Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and
    allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled by the
    government.
    However, as scary as all of that is, it
    just scratches the surface. In fact, I have concluded that this legislation
    really has no intention of providing affordable health care choices. Instead it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer
    of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred, or
    even been contemplated. If this law or a similar one is adopted, major
    portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been
    destroyed.
    The first thing to go will be the
    masterfully crafted balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and
    Judicial branches of the U.S. Government. The Congress will be transferring
    to the Obama Administration authority in a number of different areas over
    the lives of the American people, and the businesses they
    own.
    The irony is that the Congress doesn’t have any authority to legislate in most of those areas
    to begin with! I defy anyone to read the text of the U.S. Constitution and find any authority granted to the members of
    Congress to regulate health care.
    This legislation also provides for
    access, by the appointees of the Obama administration, of all of your
    personal healthcaredirect violation of the specific provisions of the 4th
    Amendment to the Constitutioninformation, your personal financial
    information, and the information of your employer, physician, and hospital.
    All of this is a protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures. You
    can also forget about the right to privacy. That will have been legislated
    into oblivion regardless of
    what the 3rd and 4th Amendmentsmay provide.
    If you decide not to have healthcare
    insurance, or if you have private insurance that is not deemed acceptable to
    the Health Choices Administrator appointed by Obama, there will be a tax
    imposed on you. It is called a
    tax instead of a fine because of the intent to avoid application of the due
    process clause of the 5th Amendment. However , that doesn’t work because since
    there is nothing in the law that allows you to contest or appeal the
    imposition of the tax, it is
    definitely depriving someone of property without the due process of
    law.
    So, there are three of those pesky
    amendments that the far left hate so much, out the original ten in the Bill
    of Rights, that are effectively nullified by this
    law.
    It doesn’t stop there
    though.
    The 9th Amendment that
    provides:
    The enumeration in the
    Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage
    others retained by the people;
    The 10th Amendment
    states:
    The powers not delegated to the
    United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are
    preserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Under the provisions
    of this piece of Congressional handiwork neither the people nor the states
    are going to have any rights or powers at all in many areas that once were
    theirs to control.
    I could write many more pages about
    this legislation, but I think you get the idea. This is not about health
    care; it is about seizing power and limiting
    rights.
    Article 6 of the
    Constitution requires the members of both houses
    of Congress to “be bound by oath or affirmation to support the
    Constitution.” If I was a member of Congress I would not be able to vote for
    this legislation or anything like it, without feeling I was violating that
    sacred oath or affirmation. If I voted for it anyway, I would hope the
    American people would hold me accountable.
    For those who might doubt the nature of
    this threat, I suggest they consult the source, the US
    Constitution, and Bill of Rights. There you can see exactly what we are
    about to have taken from us.

    Michael Connelly
    Retired attorney,
    Constitutional Law
    Instructor
    Carrollton ,
    Texas

  • drbellows

    A retired Constitutional lawyer has read the entire proposed health care bill.
    Read his conclusions and pass this on as you wish. This is
    stunning!
    The Truth About the Health Care
    Bills
    Michael Connelly, Ret.
    Constitutional
    Attorney
    Well, I have done it! I have read the
    entire text of proposed House Bill 3200: The Affordable Health Care Choices
    Act of 2009. I studied it with particular emphasis from my area of
    expertise, constitutional law. I was frankly concerned that parts of the
    proposed law that were being discussed might be unconstitutional. What I found was far worse than
    what I had heard or expected.
    To begin with, much of what has been
    said about the law and its implications is in fact true, despite what the
    Democrats and the media are saying. The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where
    senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care
    for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced
    participation in abortions by members of the medical
    profession.
    The Bill will also eventually force
    private insurance companies out of business, and put everyone into a
    government run system. All decisions about personal health care will
    ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats, and most of them will not be
    health care professionals. Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and
    allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled by the
    government.
    However, as scary as all of that is, it
    just scratches the surface. In fact, I have concluded that this legislation
    really has no intention of providing affordable health care choices. Instead it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer
    of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred, or
    even been contemplated. If this law or a similar one is adopted, major
    portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been
    destroyed.
    The first thing to go will be the
    masterfully crafted balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and
    Judicial branches of the U.S. Government. The Congress will be transferring
    to the Obama Administration authority in a number of different areas over
    the lives of the American people, and the businesses they
    own.
    The irony is that the Congress doesn’t have any authority to legislate in most of those areas
    to begin with! I defy anyone to read the text of the U.S. Constitution and find any authority granted to the members of
    Congress to regulate health care.
    This legislation also provides for
    access, by the appointees of the Obama administration, of all of your
    personal healthcaredirect violation of the specific provisions of the 4th
    Amendment to the Constitutioninformation, your personal financial
    information, and the information of your employer, physician, and hospital.
    All of this is a protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures. You
    can also forget about the right to privacy. That will have been legislated
    into oblivion regardless of
    what the 3rd and 4th Amendmentsmay provide.
    If you decide not to have healthcare
    insurance, or if you have private insurance that is not deemed acceptable to
    the Health Choices Administrator appointed by Obama, there will be a tax
    imposed on you. It is called a
    tax instead of a fine because of the intent to avoid application of the due
    process clause of the 5th Amendment. However , that doesn’t work because since
    there is nothing in the law that allows you to contest or appeal the
    imposition of the tax, it is
    definitely depriving someone of property without the due process of
    law.
    So, there are three of those pesky
    amendments that the far left hate so much, out the original ten in the Bill
    of Rights, that are effectively nullified by this
    law.
    It doesn’t stop there
    though.
    The 9th Amendment that
    provides:
    The enumeration in the
    Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage
    others retained by the people;
    The 10th Amendment
    states:
    The powers not delegated to the
    United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are
    preserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Under the provisions
    of this piece of Congressional handiwork neither the people nor the states
    are going to have any rights or powers at all in many areas that once were
    theirs to control.
    I could write many more pages about
    this legislation, but I think you get the idea. This is not about health
    care; it is about seizing power and limiting
    rights.
    Article 6 of the
    Constitution requires the members of both houses
    of Congress to “be bound by oath or affirmation to support the
    Constitution.” If I was a member of Congress I would not be able to vote for
    this legislation or anything like it, without feeling I was violating that
    sacred oath or affirmation. If I voted for it anyway, I would hope the
    American people would hold me accountable.
    For those who might doubt the nature of
    this threat, I suggest they consult the source, the US
    Constitution, and Bill of Rights. There you can see exactly what we are
    about to have taken from us.

    Michael Connelly
    Retired attorney,
    Constitutional Law
    Instructor
    Carrollton ,
    Texas

  • Walt Henry

    Are you suggesting we are becoming communists like the early Christian communities (the only time I know true communism has been tried) or totalitarian like the USSR? Facts matter!

  • Walt Henry

    Here’s the reality of the situation–if the country, and we are a country of majority rule unless an action is ruled unconstitutional, wanted an end to ACA a majority of voters would have voted for candidates who were against implementation of it. But a majority of voters voted for candidates IN FAVOR of implementation of ACA, yes even in the House elections. So unless the Republicans want to become a country run by a small group, anti-American group of people they should surrender to the wishes of the American people. Your words are either American or not. Sir, your are not>

Editor's Picks

Taste of FF sells out: Annual Chamber event Tuesday at Bigwood

It started out as a simple idea: Provide food to boost the traditionally lackluster attendance at the Fergus Falls Chamber’s annual meeting. “We’ve tried to ... Read more

RTC film to show in festival [UPDATED]

“The Control Group,” a horror movie filmed in 2012 in the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center, will be showing this week in the Twin Cities ... Read more

Stolen cycle recovered in California

A motorcycle stolen two-and-a-half years ago from a home near Dead Lake was recovered in California. The 1962 Triumph 650 cc motorcycle, worth $10,000, was ... Read more

One killed, two injured in rollover

Three 17-year-old boys from Alexandria were involved in a single vehicle early morning rollover which killed one of them and injured the other two. Michael ... Read more