ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday he believes progress has been made on fixing problems with Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace, but that challenges remain as an initial enrollment deadline looms.
Dayton said in an interview with The Associated Press that he’s been keeping tabs on MNsure nine days into its new leadership. The Democratic governor planned a conference call Friday with new CEO Scott Leitz, and is scheduled to visit MNsure headquarters next week to lend support to workers he said have been putting in long hours under difficult circumstances.
Last week, MNsure extended an enrollment deadline for Minnesotans who want coverage starting Jan. 1 under the new federal health care law. They now have right up until Dec. 31 to sign up, and until Jan. 10 to pay for coverage that starts Jan. 1.
Dayton said MNsure has partially reduced a backlog of applications stalled in its computer systems by manually entering several thousand of them. IBM, which is one of MNsure’s main software contractors, has sent a team to work on-site at MNsure to solve continued problems with operating software.
MNsure spokeswoman Jenni Bowring-McDonough said those using a toll-free call center were waiting about an hour on Friday afternoon before getting to talk to an operator. Dayton said he hopes those wait times drop as problems with the website are resolved.
The Department of Human Services said Friday that Minnesotans seeking to enroll in public insurance programs for coverage starting on Jan. 1 can submit paper applications if they’re having trouble signing up through the MNsure website. Paper applications can be obtained on the DHS website.
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