A day before the release of an expansive MNsure audit, Republicans and officials with the state health insurance exchange skirmished over pay for MNsure managers.

Republicans say their analysis of MNsure documents found that 11 managers collectively received about $125,000 more in compensation last year compared with 2013. Increases ranged from 5 percent to 32 percent, according to the analysis.

“In light of MNsure’s continued failure to meet its core goal it is difficult to understand these exorbitant increases in compensation,” Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, wrote in a letter sent to MNsure on Monday.

MNsure issued a statement questioning how Davids came up with his figures, adding that “no MNsure employee has been awarded any ‘pay for performance’ or bonuses.”

Like other state workers, MNsure managers can receive more pay due to promotions as well as merit increases that are tied to positive annual job reviews, said spokesman Joe Campbell. The merit increases are capped at 3 percent, can’t push salary beyond set limits and effectively serve as cost-of-living increases, he said. Finally, Campbell said MNsure managers last year were eligible only for smaller increases than their peers at other state agencies.

“We have been able to make affordable coverage available to more Minnesotans than ever before, and that’s our core goal,” Campbell said.

Auditor’s report coming

The dispute came on the eve of a report from Legislative Auditor James Nobles, who has been investigating whether MNsure was adequately planned and implemented.

Nobles is expected to present the report to two legislative committees on Tuesday, with discussion of whether there’s a need for changes in the governance of MNsure or the enrollment system it’s developed.

Sunday brought the close of MNsure’s second open enrollment period for people buying private policies. On Monday, MNsure said it would extend the enrollment deadline for people who tried to sign up for coverage by Sunday, but couldn’t complete the process.

Numerous health insurance exchanges across the country have implemented similar grace periods for people who were “in line” for coverage when Sunday’s deadline passed. In Minnesota, some people had trouble completing enrollment over the weekend because of problems with a federal data hub, said Joe Campbell, a MNsure spokesman.

The federal hub verifies information about the income and identity of those seeking coverage through MNsure. The Associated Press reported Sunday that there were some problems with the hub over the weekend.

“I want to assure Minnesotans who took any of these steps of one clear message — if you were in the process of enrolling, we’ll work with you to get into coverage,” said Scott Leitz, the MNsure chief executive.


Twitter: @chrissnowbeck