In Minnesota we have become used to the dog days of summer: long hot days spent at the lake, at the state fair, or soaking up sun in the yard. But a new tradition can now be added to these time-honored rituals. For the past two summers, stakeholders, legislators, lobbyists, experts, executive branch staff, and others have packed into hearing rooms to discuss the health care exchange and its implementation.
In the summer of 2012, multiple executive branch advisory groups met to develop the outline of a health care exchange. These efforts were translated into legislation and eventually passed into law during the 2013 Legislative Session. Now, many of the same people are at it again. They are working this summer to implement the new law and create an actual working exchange.
Actions to construct and implement MNSure, the new name for the state’s federally mandated health insurance marketplace, are progressing rapidly. The MNSure Board has been meeting every two weeks through the summer while a legislative oversight committee has convened its first meeting and is promising many more.
The MNSure Board is working towards enrollment beginning October 1, 2013 with coverage beginning January 1, 2014. Multiple steps need to be completed before these goals are met. The Board has received $112 million in federal grants to fund its work and is now applying for $40 million in additional funding. MNsure will also be doubling the number of employees. While they currently have 40 staff, this number will quickly double in the months to come.
MNSure is spending $51.9 million on information technology and has contracted with Maximus to build the technology necessary for a functioning exchange. A call center will be opening in September to advise small businesses and individuals and advertising will be commencing soon.
To stay abreast of MNSure developments, go the exchanges website at http://www.mn.gov/hix/. The legislative oversight committee also has its own website at http://www.lcc.leg.mn/mnsure/.