Gov. Mark Dayton is pushing back at critics of, MNsure, the state’s fledgling health insurance exchange.
MNsure, an online marketplace expected to connect more than 1 million Minnesotans to private health coverage, will begin enrolling its first customers on October 1. On the rocky road to that rollout, the agency has come under fire for a series of missteps.
Most recently, a MNsure employee mistakenly emailed personal data – including social security numbers – of thousands of insurance agents to another broker. The security breach fueled the concerns of critics who question whether MNsure can safeguard personal data in a massive network that will link personal data, private insurers and state and federal computer networks.
On Wednesday, Dayton called the data breach an “honest mistake” and urged MNsure officials to install safeguards to ensure it never happens again. But he accused critics of using the incident to try to derail the exchange before it enrolls its first customer.
“There was no harm done to anybody. There was a flaw in the system…and that should be learned from,” Dayton said. “But there are people out there who just want to destroy the health exchanges, who want to destroy the Affordable Care Act and leave this country with no health system at all and turn it back over to the insurance companies to do whatever they want to do.
Once MNsure is online, uninsured or under-insured Minnesotans – or small businesses that struggle to afford health coverage for their workers – will be able to log on and shop among health insurance plans. But getting the system up and running is a massive undertaking and the state had less than a year to get MNsure off the ground.
“Every little mistake is going to be seized upon,” Dayton said. “This is starting a huge business, from Day One, in the public spotlight. I wish I could say there weren’t going to be any more errors made, but that’s just not realistic in any public enterprise in the public or private sector.”
That’s what worries some Republican lawmakers.
In a letter to Dayton Wednesday, state Reps. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, and Greg Davids, R-Preston, urged closer scrutiny of the agency’s fiscal and data practices.
“It is wise to immediately review how MNsure is spending hardworking taxpayer dollars, how it is securing personal information and how it will operate without continuous taxpayer-funded bailouts,” they wrote. “It’s time for you to get off the sidelines and take responsibility for an entity that was brought to life by your signature.”