Seven Minnesotans -- including a General Mills vice president, retired union executive, state human services commissioner -- will take on the task of guiding the future of health care in Minnesota.
On Tuesday, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton appointed the seven board members to the MNsure board. They are changed with managing and operating the new health insurance exchange, required by the federal health care overhaul. When the exchange is complete, one out of every five Minnesotans will access the system to buy health insurance.
At the Capitol as their positions were announced the board members said they were hopeful about the product the system could produce.
"MnSure is going to provide an opportunity for affordable health care premiums without multi-thousand dollar deducible," said Pete Benner, board member and former union executive. "The number of people who are going to be touched by what we do is phenomenal."
When asked, at least one board member stepped up to agree with Dayton's earlier declaration that it is a gamble.
"It is a gamble absolutely. We are chartering something," said Brian Beutner, a CEO of mPay Gateway. mPay is a healthcare software company. "Our charge is to make it work for as many people as well as possible."
Although several of the members have connections to unions and the health care industry, Dayton's office said: "all appointed members of the board have demonstrated that they do not have any conflicts of interest." Board members indicated that there are both Democrats and Republican among their ranks.
Here, from the governor's office, is the full list and background of the new board members:
"Thompson Aderinkomi, Founder and CEO, RetraceHealth. Mr. Aderinkomi has more than 14 years of experience helping health care organizations use their data effectively. Currently, he is the founder and CEO of RetraceHealth, which is an innovative technology provider that delivers primary care services to members. He began his career managing the finance department of CareMate Home Healthcare. From there, he performed program evaluations, created predictive models, and studied health insurance reimbursement for Ingenix (which is now Optum Health) and Medica Health Plans. In 2009, Aderinkomi co-founded Evidity, which is a health-care data analytics firm that serves the physician market. He is also serves as the board chair for WATCH MN, a domestic abuse monitoring agency, and as a board member of Youthprise, an education focused group working to increase the quality, accessibility, sustainability, and innovation of opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.
Pete Benner, Independent Consultant. Mr. Benner is a consultant on health care, labor relations, and public policy. Prior to consulting, he worked for many years with AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees). Benner is the former Executive Director of AFSCME Council 6, where he was the lead negotiator with the State of Minnesota in designing the insurance benefits for state employees and their families. He also sat on many boards and commissions relating to health care including: Minnesota Health Care Access Commission, Minnesota Health Care Commission, Minnesota Citizen’s Forum on Health Care Costs, Governor’s Health Care Transformation Task Force, Governor’s Health Care Reform Task Force, Minnesota Community Measurement, and the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement.
Brian Beutner, CEO, mPay Gateway. Mr. Beutner is a consultant working with start-ups and their founders as they try to expand their innovative concepts into viable businesses. Until April 2013, Mr. Beutner was the CEO of mPay Gateway, a venture-banked healthcare software company that has developed financial products and services to support healthcare payments. In the past, Mr. Beutner spent seven years with UnitedHealth Group working in various capacities, including General Counsel of UnitedHealthcare. At UnitedHealth Group, he helped found its financial services business and chartered Exante Bank, now Optum Health Bank, which is the first successful bank built by a healthcare company. Mr. Beutner previously served as General Counsel of Jostens and practiced law with Oppenheimer Wolff and Donnelly. Beutner served as an adjunct professor at Hamline University Law School, where he created and taught courses on business and healthcare. He currently serves on the Hamline University School of Law Health Law Institute Advisory Board. Mr. Beutner previously served on the board of directors of the Courage Center Foundation; the foundation is a supporting organization to the Courage Center.
Kathryn Duevel, OBGYN, Affiliated Community Medical Care (retired). Dr. Duevel is an OBGYN physician. She worked at Affiliated Community Medical Centers in Willmar, Minnesota for more than 20 years until June 2012. In addition to her MD degree from the University of MN, she has a Master of Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College. Dr. Duevel was previously a member of the executive board of the MN ACOG(American College of OBGYN) and Rice Memorial Hospital's Medical Staff Executive Committee while also serving as Vice Chief of Staff and Credentials Chair. She currently leads Rice Memorial Hospital’s OB Patient Safety Committee and was a founding board member for the Kandiyohi Area Family YMCA. She has served as a volunteer physician with the Remote Area Medical Women’s Health Program in Guyana, South America and African Medical Mission in South Africa.
Tom Forsythe, Vice President of Global Communications, General Mills. Mr. Forsythe has worked for General Mills for the past 22 years, where he is currently Vice President of Global Communications. He has served as a board member of Twin Cities Public Television, Twin West Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota State University Board, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, where he also served for a year as Chairman of the Board. In 1991, Forsythe worked on behalf of the business community advancing health care reform, including the legislation that created Minnesota Care. Forsythe was later appointed by Governor Arne Carlson to the Minnesota Health Care Commission, and by Governor Tim Pawlenty to the Minnesota Health Care Transformation Task Force, where he advocated for market-based, consumer-oriented health care.
Lucinda Jesson, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). As commissioner of Human Services, Jesson oversees an agency administering a broad range of services, including health care, economic assistance, mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment, child welfare services, and services for the elderly and people with disabilities. Prior to joining DHS, Jesson was an associate professor of law at the Hamline University School of Law where she also founded and served as director of the Health Law Institute. Before that, Jesson served in local and state government both as chief deputy Hennepin County attorney, and as Minnesota deputy attorney general. In addition, Jesson has extensive private sector experience, both as a partner in the law firm of Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly LLP, and in her own private practice.
Phil Norrgard, Director of Human Services, Fond du Lac Reservation. Since 1980, Mr. Norrgard has served as the Director of Human Services on the Fond du Lac Reservation, where he performs many of the same tasks as a county health and human services administrator. In addition, he provides, purchases, and contracts for a range of medical, dental, pharmacy, chemical dependency, behavioral health, chiropractic care, and in-home health care services. Mr. Norrgard served as a founding member on the Fond du Lac Insurance Board of Directors and helped establish Fond du Lac’s self-insurance medical plan and negotiated the catastrophic coverage. Additionally, he served as the founding member of the Indian Mental Health Advisory Council and the Indian Child Welfare Advisory Council.