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Dayton: I’m Ultimately Responsible If MNsure Fails

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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CBS Minnesota (con't)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton declined to say Thursday whether he asked for the resignation of the former CEO of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, adding that he ultimately feels responsible for the success or failure of the venture.

Dayton was asked several times at a news conference if he pushed for the exit of April Todd-Malmlov, who resigned Tuesday as executive director of MNsure. Dayton said he wouldn’t comment on his role but noted he had grown increasingly vocal in recent days about his concern with problems that continue to plague the exchange, even as coverage is set to kick in on Jan. 1.

On Friday, MNsure announced that it will extend its signup deadline to Dec. 31 for coverage beginning on Jan 1. The first payment is due Jan. 10.

Dayton apologized for problems Minnesotans are having on the state’s health care exchange. The governor is promising to fix multiple website problems, as soon as possible.

“I apologize to those Minnesotans who have been seriously inconvenienced or are distraught by the failures of MNsure. It’s unacceptable,” Dayton said Thursday. “We’re going to do everything we can, around the clock, to correct that.”

MNsure’s board of directors, which Dayton appointed, has tapped Scott Leitz to replace Todd-Malmlov as the agency’s interim CEO. Board members were also reluctant to reveal details of Todd-Malmlov’s abrupt departure, which came after the revelation she had taken a nearly two-week vacation in late November as MNsure’s problems mounted: a bug-ridden website, long wait times at its toll-free helpline, and error-plagued information transmitted to insurance companies.

She sent a farewell memo to MNsure employees saying she quit “to protect the welfare and privacy” of her family.

Dayton said he grew increasingly worried about MNsure starting in mid-November, at a time when issues with the federal health care exchange seemed to be getting ironed out even as MNsure’s problems seemed to be mounting. He said at that time, he expressed “extreme displeasure” to MNsure’s Board.

He also personally called IBM executives who designed Minnesota’s software. Dayton said he had no power over the rollout, even though he accepts responsibility.

“Did I cause? I don’t think I caused the problems at MNsure and I did everything I could to prevent them,” he said. “Ultimately the buck stops here.”

Dayton praised the choice of Leitz, who had been an assistant state commissioner of human services overseeing Minnesota’s Medicaid program, to take over the effort to implement the federal health care changes in Minnesota.

Dayton said he accepted the fact that Minnesota voters would judge him on how it performs in the coming weeks and months.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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