Gov. Mark Dayton has named retiring state Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, and one of his senior policy advisers to the MNsure board of directors.
Sheran has served 10 years in the state Senate, and previously worked as a health care clinician and associate professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Lauren Gilchrist, a senior policy adviser to Dayton, previously worked as a health policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Al Franken and the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
"Their collective breadth of knowledge and experience in health care will best serve to address the challenges we face in delivering quality, affordable care to all Minnesotans," Dayton said in a statement on Tuesday.
House Republicans criticized the appointments, calling Sheran and Gilchrist "political insiders" who were involved with the early struggles at MNsure, which the state launched in late 2013 to implement the federal Affordable Care Act.
"I urge Gov. Dayton to reopen the appointment process and seek qualified, eligible people who actually understand how to make health insurance more affordable," said Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, in a statement.
The federal health law requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
People who buy health insurance on their own can use the website to purchase private coverage, and tap federal tax credits to discount costs.
Sheran will replace former board member Tom Forsythe, a General Mills executive who held the position for a MNsure board member with expertise in health policy. In an interview, Sheran said she will start serving as a voting board member in January once her legislative term ends.
Currently, Sheran is a member of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee.
Gilchrist replaces Kathryn Duevel, a retired physician who held a board position reserved for experts in public health and disparities.
Gilchrist is expected to join the board for its Sept. 21 meeting.
The terms of both appointees expire on May 5, 2020.
Forsythe and Duevel cycled off the board in early May, meaning the seven-person board lacked two members during meetings in May, June and July. When two board members cycled off the MNsure board in 2015, replacements were named by July 1.
Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, criticized the delay last month in a letter to Dayton, noting that MNsure is approaching a critical open enrollment period this fall as health exchanges across the country are struggling with pullbacks by insurance companies.
On Thursday, the federal government released data showing that Minnesota health insurers selling through MNsure are seeking premium increases that range from 36 percent to 67 percent for 2017. Final rates in the market are scheduled to be released Sept. 30, with open enrollment starting Nov. 1.