A technical problem related to the MNsure IT system means the state must rerun eligibility determinations for more than 55,000 people in public health insurance programs.

There is no immediate impact for people in the Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs, state officials said Monday, but there’s a chance some in the future will need to find a new source of health insurance.

There’s also a chance the state could be at risk financially if people wrongly received coverage through the programs, which are partly funded by the federal government.

But state officials said Monday that it’s not clear whether the technical problem rests with MNsure or a data hub that’s operated by the federal government.

“We’re really working through with [the federal government] on identifying whether the issue resides on this side or that side,” said Scott Peterson, the chief information officer for DHS and MNsure with the state’s MN.IT agency.

Minnesota launched MNsure in 2013 to implement the federal Affordable Care Act. People use the system to enroll in both public and private health insurance coverage, but the problem disclosed Monday only relates to the public program portion of the system.

To make sure people are eligible for public health insurance, the MNsure IT system communicates with the federal data hub to check information about the income, immigration and disability status of enrollees.

On April 30, state government testing revealed a problem with the transfer of data about applicant income, Peterson said. On Friday, officials determined the scope of the problem, said Chuck Johnson, a deputy commissioner with the state Department of Human Services (DHS).

The data transfer problem will be fixed this month, state officials said, at which point eligibility determinations for 55,794 people will be reprocessed.

At that point, some of those people might need to provide additional information to show whether they qualify for one of the public insurance programs. Some might need to shift from Medicaid to MinnesotaCare, while others could find they must buy commercial coverage.

“We’re just going to make the fix going forward for them,” Johnson said. “So, there wouldn’t be any repercussions for the people in terms of months they may have incurred in a program that they shouldn’t have been in.”

It’s unclear what financial risk might exist for the state.

“Once we have gone through and identified the people that we need to contact, and we’ve gone through and actually gotten additional information from them, then we’ll have a better idea of what the scope of that would be,” Johnson said.

“In the immediate term, no one needs to do anything,” he added, referring to enrollees. “They need to wait to hear from us.”

In Minnesota, Medicaid is called Medical Assistance, and it provides coverage for the state’s lowest-income residents. MinnesotaCare covers a slightly higher-income group.

The problem involves about 48,000 people who were automatically renewed into Medicaid coverage between January and April, plus another 7,000 automatically renewed into MinnesotaCare coverage.

DHS and Minnesota counties administer public health insurance programs. The state agency notified county workers about the problem in an e-mail Monday.

“As we work to correct this issue, we will keep you informed of ... the process for closing cases for which eligibility was determined incorrectly and for helping those affected to find coverage that fits their eligibility status,” a DHS official wrote in the e-mail.


Twitter: @chrissnowbeck