ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gov. Mark Dayton picked six private citizens with a range of experience in the health field to fill the board of the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange, known as MNsure.
MNsure will be an online marketplace where consumers and small business owners will be able to shop for affordable health care, including at least a half million Minnesotans who will become eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act in 2014.
The MNsure exchange website already has a lot of information for consumers, explaining how the interactive site will work. The exchange's budget also envisions "navigators" -- people who help consumers through the process.
Minnesota is ahead of the curve, as one of only three states in the nation that set up a healthcare exchange to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Washington and Maryland are the only two other states that have formed such entities.
And yet it's all new ground, and the newly minted board members said they expected to see hiccups along the way.
"Everybody has their own internal idea of what it can be," Brian Beutner, a former United Healthcare executive told Capitol reporters.
"And I think our charge to make it work for as many people, as well as possible."
Insurance companies willing to sell plans through MNsure will submit proposals in the coming months. Enrollment will begin in October, and coverage will begin January first.
"My years as a physician have taught me that patients are coming from all kinds of different places to figure out how they're going to try to take care of their healthcare bills that seem insurmountable," Dr. Kathyrn Duevel, a retired OB-GYN and new board member, remarked.
"Another big thing is using this forum to get the information out there so people know about it, and use the service."
Dayton's appointees are:
- Thompson Aderinkomi, founder of a healthcare technology firm
- Pete Benner, a former AFSCME union executive
- Brian Beutner, a former United Health Group executive and a consultant
- Kathryn Duevel, a retired doctor and hospital official from Willmar
- Tom Forsythe, a General Milles executive
- Phil Norrgard, director of human services for the Fond du Lac Reservation
As prescribed by state law, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson fills the seventh board spot.
Dayton told reporters he selected the six board members from a pool of 112 applicants.
The health exchange bill passed by the House and Senate earlier in the 2013 session and signed into law by Dayton barred current insurance company employees from serving on the board.
While the debate on the health exchange bill was still underway at the Capitol, opponents of the Affordable Care Act erected billboards across the Twin Cities warning that "your health care is in the hands of seven strangers."
The strangers in that ad campaign were represented by 7 silhouettes. A small band of protesters at the Capitol chanted "stranger danger" earlier in the day Tuesday.
When asked by a reporter how "dangerous" he thought his selections were, Dayton and the new board members burst into laughter.
Much of the initial costs of the exchange will go to creating the computer and Internet Technology framework that allows the market to interact with government and private insurance provider systems electronically.
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