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Several Factors Hobbled MNsure From the Start

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Starting then, Baden said one of IBM's top officials visited St. Paul regularly to whittle down the list. While the list of Curam problems fluctuated over the summer, Baden said some issues remained when MNsure launched.

A month ago, a MNsure review conducted by consulting firm Optum found that the Curam software had 108 defects - more than double any other vendor.

DESPERATELY SEEKING DATA

MNsure has so far paid nearly $400,000 for three independent progress reports.

But MNsure board chairman Brian Beutner said he was only vaguely familiar with the reports when asked about them last month. He said he wasn't aware of the problems outlined in the reports, either.

"Why did I not know ... management was a concern? I'm not seeing the reports," Beutner said. "It's not being brought up, and part of that is you rely on management to make the judgment call."

The board became legally responsible for MNsure in August 2013, but started meeting as early as May.

Beutner, however, said the board got scant details about what was going on behind the scenes at MNsure, getting most of their information orally at board meetings from the executive director, April Todd-Malmlov, who is known for being highly intelligent but tight-lipped.

Todd-Malmlov resigned in December amid mounting problems with the site. She did not reply to requests to be interviewed for this story.

Bad information from MNsure led to an embarrassment for the Department of Human Services.

The department told the Office of Legislative Auditor that MNsure's software had fixed a long standing problem with certain eligibility determinations. Weeks later, Commissioner Lucinda Jesson had to acknowledge the problem had not been fixed.

Organizations with a stake in MNsure's success say they had trouble communicating with the agency's top brass, too, and it was often difficult to decipher who was in charge of day-to-day operations aside from Todd-Malmlov.

As the summer of 2013 approached, insurance companies were getting nervous that MNsure was running out of time to test the system. Industry executives wanted to craft contingency plans with MNsure, but their suggestions fell on deaf ears for months.

Wed, Mar 12 2014

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