MNSure debacle: Months of warning about disastrous rollout

posted at 8:01 am on April 7, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Minnesota’s ObamaCare exchange has had a disastrous rollout, managing to right itself enough to garner a few salutary headlines in the last couple of weeks, but at a high cost. The program’s chief executive got forced into resigning, and the legislature wants answers on how taxpayer funds got used to deliver such a broken system. Yesterday, the Star Tribune’s Jeffrey Meitrodt offered an exposé of just how much of a surprise the debacle was to MNSure officials, which was, er, not a surprise at all:

The warning was one of many to surface in a hurried rollout that led to frequent website crashes and ongoing errors that have angered thousands of would-be enrollees, a Star Tribune examination of internal project reports, external audits and hundreds of state government e-mails show.

Managers and auditors said for months that the project was falling woefully behind and that critical system tests came too late or had to be curtailed. Among the Star Tribune’s findings:

• Auditors revealed dozens of major problems that were not fixed before the website was launched, state records show, contradicting public statements from MNsure officials that such issues were being handled promptly. Last July, for instance, auditors noted the MNsure website wouldn’t work with some Internet browsers, an issue that lingered through December.

• MNsure didn’t have plans to address website failures, forcing officials to scramble when the system broke down, state records and e-mails show.

• MNsure board members said they were not told about critical audit findings, and were unaware of meetings during which staff members discussed postponing the launch.

• Minnesota officials, who said the federal government’s Oct. 1 deadline to launch the website was “inflexible,” did not know that online enrollment could be postponed without penalty, an option federal officials disclosed in response to Star Tribune inquiries.

The latter came as a surprise to everyone, including Meitrodt, who describes the reaction in the video on the Strib’s story. No one apparently bothered to ask when Minnesota was required to have its web portal up and running; everyone just assumed the deadline was October 1. That may be true in other states, too, such as Oregon and Hawaii, both of whose web portals did’t work at all by October 1, and Oregon’s still doesn’t work. The federal regulations required states to guarantee that consumers could buy insurance offered on the exchanges, but the transactions themselves could still have been on paper.

That would have saved Minnesota a lot of headaches, as the website’s failures began to mount. At the very least, one would expect the Dayton administration’s team to have researched the actual regulations for which they were complying before determining deadlines. “I should have asked,” one board member told Meitrodt when the reporter informed him of the situation. Isn’t that what Minnesotans paid him to do in the first place?

April Todd-Malmlov got forced out of her position at MNSure late last fall after the failure of the system, and this report gives at least one indication why:

For months last year, Todd-Malmlov had reassured the governor and MNsure board members that no serious obstacles would impede the launch. Dayton said her blunt alarm about the problems plaguing the site “came as a shock” during the Sept. 19 meeting at his residence.

“We didn’t have a Plan B,” Dayton recalled during a recent interview, adding that he “strongly urged them to fix the problems.”

Dayton said he was reassured in the days that followed that MNsure’s website would be “good enough to go,” but he left the final call to Todd-Malmlov, a health care policy specialist who served as MNsure’s executive director.

The red flags started popping up long before this, though — in fact, thirteen months before the rollout. In September 2012, the project leaders knew that the “schedule status had turned to red” because of delivery issues on website components. My May 2013, an outside audit found MNSure meeting standards on one task … out of 135. By August, the same auditor warned that the system was so far behind schedule that major parts of it would not have time for testing by the October 1 rollout.

So what did Todd-Malmlov do? Apparently, she never told the board about these audits … and then took a vacation to the Caribbean in late November while MNSure melted down. Most of the board members contacted by Meitrodt only found out about the outside audits in January, long after Todd-Malmlov got the boot. She maintains that it never occurred to her that the board should have seen the audit results.

That brings us back to the Dayton administration, which found out 1n September about the impending disaster about to unfold in two weeks. Even though they pronounce themselves as shocked now,  what action did they take with Todd-Malmlov when they discovered the problems and the deception? That would be nothing. Todd-Malmlov was Dayton’s responsibility, but Dayton did nothing except leave the project in her hands even though she had just blindsided and “shocked” them with her eleventh-hour report on the system’s upcoming failure. It took four more months after that for the board to find out that the auditors had warned her all along of the failures, thanks to the failure of the Dayton administration to take responsibility in the crisis.

That’s the takeaway from the Strib’s in-depth report, for which they had to force the Dayton administration to release its documentation. Dayton needs to answer for this debacle.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

But, but, but over 7 million served!!!!

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:05 AM

That’s the takeaway from the Strib’s in-depth report, for which they had to force the Dayton administration to release its documentation. Dayton needs to answer for this debacle.

I would argue that Maryland’s debacle is even worse. They’ve dumped their exchange completely. $200M well spent! But…. Maryland’s legislature has essentially refused to hold anybody accountable for the waste and fraud. Why? Because Lt Governor Anthony Brown was responsible for Obamacare roll out and he’s been endorsed by most of the Dems in Annapolis. So, nobody is going to ever be called on to answer to the people. Dems have to protect the black guy who was most responsible even though he’s grossly incompetent (sound familiar?).

Happy Nomad on April 7, 2014 at 8:07 AM

Managers and auditors said for months that the project was falling woefully behind and that critical system tests came too late or had to be curtailed. Among the Star Tribune’s findings:

Well, we needed Republicans in charge of it to interest the media in exposing a failed program.

Investigative … something something …

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:07 AM

But, but, but over 7 million served!!!!

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:05 AM

Glenn Kessler (D-WaPo) admitted that number was bogus but refused to award Pinnochios for Obama’s lies. Kessler truly is a despicable weasel with no integrity when it comes to fact checking.

Happy Nomad on April 7, 2014 at 8:09 AM

It took four more months after that for the board to find out that the auditors had warned her all along of the failures, thanks to the failure of the Dayton administration to take responsibility in the crisis.

Remember when the media thought Bush was involved with ENRON enough to bring down his administration?

ABC
CBS
NBC
MSNBC
C-SPAN
PBS and
NPR

Wall to wall to wall 24/7 news at eleven. What did Bush knows?

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:11 AM

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:05 AM

Glenn Kessler (D-WaPo) admitted that number was bogus but refused to award Pinnochios for Obama’s lies. Kessler truly is a despicable weasel with no integrity when it comes to fact checking.

Happy Nomad on April 7, 2014 at 8:09 AM

Are you trying to subvert the US government by trying to convince me I’m being constantly lied to about Obamacare by his administration and every other liberal who’s lips are moving?

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:13 AM

What exactly were these software designers,website managing contractors, and official officials paid for?

These frauds should be in prison…all the way to the top of the pyramid of incompetence.

workingclass artist on April 7, 2014 at 8:18 AM

What’s a surprise is that HA seems to be studiously avoiding the GOPe Flavor-of-the-Day “Tastes Just Like RINO!” Jeb Bush “illegal immigration is an act of love” flap that’s now a day or two dusty.

Maybe I missed it.

Midas on April 7, 2014 at 8:21 AM

I guess it’s working just as planned. Everyone – conservatives included – are griping about technical issues on web sites and a few billion wasted here and there.

THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM!!!! The freaked up law is the problem! Did everyone forget that?

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 8:22 AM

Umm DUH. Save all the writing a story and simply say…Run By Liberals. Everyone will understand that failure will always follow with those 3 words.

Conservative4Ever on April 7, 2014 at 8:25 AM

Maybe I missed it.

Midas on April 7, 2014 at 8:21 AM

headlines

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:25 AM

“I should have asked,” one board member told Meitrodt when the reporter informed him of the situation. Isn’t that what Minnesotans paid him to do in the first place?

No no no, these days that’s what we pay the low level bureaucrats for. The staffers coordinate with the bureaucrats, and the politicians make the excuses and collect the money.

Fenris on April 7, 2014 at 8:29 AM

No one apparently bothered to ask when Minnesota was required to have its web portal up and running; everyone just assumed the deadline was October 1. That may be true in other states, too, such as Oregon and Hawaii, both of whose web portals did’t work at all by October 1, and Oregon’s still doesn’t work.

you mean they read a federal statute and assumed that the words therein meant what they said? Silly, we are in Wonderland now, words only mean what Dear Liar says they do.

rbj on April 7, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Although it is not surprising to me that a dhimocraptic crony project would be f–ked up, that is unusual for Minnesota. As an Okie, I often use their DNR website. It is outstanding! A web site to be proud of. I would suggest that Minnesota turn the ACA site development over to the DNR. If they can set up a site that works beautifully to catch deer, ducks, and fish, they ought to easily set up a site to catch other dumb animals such as those who don’t have health insurance.

All praise to the Minnesota DNR!

Old Country Boy on April 7, 2014 at 8:30 AM

…and the legislature wants answers on how taxpayer funds got used to deliver such a broken system

Same as it ever was… Same as it ever was.

Tsar of Earth on April 7, 2014 at 8:33 AM

One thing still bothers me about this whole mess. HHS can spout the number of left handed lesbians from each County here in Kentucky who applied and either got regular insurance or were put on Medicaid, but they can’t tell me if either of them were previously covered by any form of Health Insurance. They can only estimate that number.

Seems to me that has to be by design. That would be the easiest thing to track if you actually wanted to track it.

Question #1. Do you now have any form of health Insurance? Yes/No.

And go from there. I suspect that HHS did not want to know the answer to that question or they do know the answer and are horrified of what would happen if it leaked out.

This law was supposed to bring Health Insurance to the estimated 35-40 million people who did not have it when the law was passed. Covering ~7 million of those people in the first year would be progress if we were counting only people who did not have insurance before, but I don’t think that is what happened. And that is the real story here.

Johnnyreb on April 7, 2014 at 8:34 AM

Sometimes… sheesh I swear! Being a leader for conservatives must be much like herding cats with ADD or sumthin’.

A job I most certainly wouldn’t want, and thankfully will be unlikely to be nominated for.

The whole Republican Party (I only capitalize to be polite) has caved to a socialist agenda and must be ostracized.

Just my opinion, but…

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 8:34 AM

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 8:34 AM

I’m sympathetic to your angst. But clearly, no one is going to be led to repealing or dismantling the ACA by just demanding it occur. These individual problems with the ACA are the exact issues we need to hammer home with specificity to convince the American People to want to repeal or dismantle.

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:42 AM

ObamaCare = The broken window fallacy.

Dasher on April 7, 2014 at 8:42 AM

I’m sympathetic to your angst. But clearly, no one is going to be led to repealing or dismantling the ACA by just demanding it occur. These individual problems with the ACA are the exact issues we need to hammer home with specificity to convince the American People to want to repeal or dismantle.

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Unless conservatives can come up with an Anne Sullivan, I fear we’ve already lost.

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Meh. Just one more cog in the wheel moving us on to single payer.

HiJack on April 7, 2014 at 8:49 AM

I guess it’s working just as planned. Everyone – conservatives included – are griping about technical issues on web sites and a few billion wasted here and there.

THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM!!!! The freaked up law is the problem! Did everyone forget that?

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 8:22 AM

The website(s) incompetence is indicative of the ACA law….a symptom of the corruption.

There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that progressive/liberal Fascist policies don’t work at any level…constitutionally…ideologically…economically…or in actual practice.

State exchanges will be sued in class action law suits.

But that’s just my opinion.

Glad I live in Texas cause we didn’t comply and we have tort reform.

workingclass artist on April 7, 2014 at 8:50 AM

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Unless conservatives can come up with an Anne Sullivan, I fear we’ve already lost.

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Fair enough. What approach would you use?

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I’m sympathetic to your angst. But clearly, no one is going to be led to repealing or dismantling the ACA by just demanding it occur. These individual problems with the ACA are the exact issues we need to hammer home with specificity to convince the American People to want to repeal or dismantle.

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:42 AM

Agreed.

Until there is a turn over in the senate about all we can do is build a public body of evidence on many issues.

The palace guard that protects Obama and his fascists are bleeding viewers and subscribers…

Once there is a turn over in the senate…I would expect there to be a change of guard.

To quote Palin on Letterman…”Out with the old and in with the new…”

workingclass artist on April 7, 2014 at 8:54 AM

workingclass artist on April 7, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Without a doubt.

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Dayton needs to answer for this debacle.

Yeah, that will happen right around the time pigs fly.

climbnjump on April 7, 2014 at 8:59 AM

workingclass artist on April 7, 2014 at 8:50 AM

You are probably more politically astute than I, but I believe if you take the pressure off and focus too much on just “sh!t happens” you minimize your leverage on the main problem.

Yes, for LIV’s this strategy will work… for a couple months. Gotta remember LIV’s have a very short memory.

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Are you trying to subvert the US government by trying to convince me I’m being constantly lied to about Obamacare by his administration and every other liberal who’s lips are moving?

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Don’t be silly comrade! Dear leader and those hard working civil servants, especially those at the NSA, would never even think of lying to us!

Happy Nomad on April 7, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Fair enough. What approach would you use?

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Good job asking the relevant question!

I would drive home the damage the law has done – and will do – to those that are paying for it.

Charity is a gift, not a requirement. I help my neighbors and friends when I can. Not because I have to, but because I want to.

A forced donation “TAX according to Roberts” is not a donation. Socialism is easy to love if you benefit from it. However, always remember what good old Maggie “Iron Lady” Thatcher had to say about it.

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Oregon’s still doesn’t work.

The state has spent more than $200 million in federal grant money on the exchange.

Mike Morrissey on April 7, 2014 at 9:18 AM

I would drive home the damage the law has done – and will do – to those that are paying for it.

I think that’s all any article like this is supposed to do. people have been horrible affected by the websites and roll-out.

Charity is a gift, not a requirement. I help my neighbors and friends when I can. Not because I have to, but because I want to.

A forced donation “TAX according to Roberts” is not a donation. Socialism is easy to love if you benefit from it. However, always remember what good old Maggie “Iron Lady” Thatcher had to say about it.

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Again, great ideology but this isn’t a specific list of whats wrong with the rollout and organization of the ACA itself.

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Again, great ideology but this isn’t a specific list of whats wrong with the rollout and organization of the ACA itself.

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Perhaps you are missing my point. The roll out is done. The website has been “fixed”.

Beating dead horses gets you nowhere in a hurry. The law is still the law (until little boots changes it again). The law is the problem. Please don’t get me wrong, griping about the roll out and the organization of the law are legitimate, but that only leads to “fixing” something that can’t be fixed.

Focus too much on irrelevant details and you forget the main goal. In essence focus on the forest and you forget the tree.

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Perhaps you are missing my point. The roll out is done. The website has been “fixed”.

Beating dead horses gets you nowhere in a hurry. The law is still the law (until little boots changes it again). The law is the problem. Please don’t get me wrong, griping about the roll out and the organization of the law are legitimate, but that only leads to “fixing” something that can’t be fixed.

Focus too much on irrelevant details and you forget the main goal. In essence focus on the forest and you forget the tree.

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 9:32 AM

I don’t think I’m missing the point. But if you want to return to the old healthcare system, you have to point out all of the problems. The websites are a very good example of the incompetence and deceit that was behind the ACA. Talk about it all. Incessantly.

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 9:35 AM

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 9:35 AM

I guess we will have to agree that we disagree.

Once again getting conservatives together – or as I like to call them, rational people – is like herding cats with ADD.

I suppose I will take that over blind celebrity worshiping. :-)

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Stupid Minnesota voters….My last dumb vote in Minnesota was Jesse Venture……never again and I certainly didn’t vote for this bunch of liberal hacks.

crosshugger on April 7, 2014 at 9:58 AM

crosshugger on April 7, 2014 at 9:58 AM

You voted for Jesse “The body” Venture and admitted it in an open forum? You got some balls! LOL.

Admitting your mistakes are the first step to correcting them. Carry on and sin no more. :-)

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Debacle? It’s a feature.

vnvet on April 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

This is why demogoguery on this issue will not be successful. This healthcare nightmare affects people of all ideaologies and political parties. In fact, it might be the best example for limited government by far. Harry Reid calling anyone with a bad experience with Obamacare a liar doesn’t help Democrats in the midterms. Too bad Republicans only want the issue to run on and have no intention of really repealing it.

lea on April 7, 2014 at 10:29 AM

What this article, and HA fail to mention is that Dayton is a Democrat. That needs to be trumpeted and shouted out everywhere. Democrats need to be pounded with their odumbass care failures.

earlgrey on April 7, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Dayton needs to answer for this debacle.

And you know as well as I do that he won’t be required to answer for it, Mr. Morrissey. If my fellow Minnesotans cared at all about government waste and incompetence, they would have never put this group in office.

AScott on April 7, 2014 at 11:01 AM

No one apparently bothered to ask when Minnesota was required to have its web portal up and running; everyone just assumed the deadline was October 1.

It would have made no difference WHEN the hard deadline was. It was never a matter of running short of time to implement.

Obamacare was and is just a giant faucet squirting money on the favored who have been taking away taxpayer cash by the bucket-load.

Nobody thought builders needed to be qualified to help construct these slush-fund sluices otherwise known as OBAMACARE PORTALS, merely among the politically favored.

Not that it was intended, but Democrats all over the country have proven that it is impossible to build a technically complex edifice by using any fool who has done donations or kickbacks for the Leftist ideology.

So much of government is just a channel for money to the favored, who get contracts for things taxpayers care nothing about, but oh Nelly!

This Obamacare puppy and all its blue state iterations are right out in the public eye, with deadlines and transparency that can’t entirely be cloaked by the the Ministry of Truth.

The corrupt usually count on a level of obscurity that is not available in this CF. So, yay.

Pless1foEngrish on April 7, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Why does this matter?

From media perspective the only important function of government is keeping traffic flowing. Bridge lane closures and snow-removal are big deals. Everything else seems of little concern.

Government incompetence and wasting huge sums of taxpayer dollars are usually not even reported. Must have been slow news day.

pilsener on April 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 9:52 AM

lol

You’ve confused me. I’m not sure what we’re disagreeing on. Didn’t we both say all aspects of this debacle needs to be hammered home and constantly addressed?

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Remember when the media thought Bush was involved with ENRON enough to bring down his administration?

ABC
CBS
NBC
MSNBC
C-SPAN
PBS and
NPR

Wall to wall to wall 24/7 news at eleven. What did Bush knows?

hawkdriver on April 7, 2014 at 8:11 AM

…their silence is deafening!

KOOLAID2 on April 7, 2014 at 11:17 AM

I’m so glad the enrollment period has ended.

Now, the collapse of Obamacare can begin.

The whole Obamacare system is as badly managed and administered as the web sites.

Reports of systemic collapse should start to come in over the next several months.

MichaelGabriel on April 7, 2014 at 12:25 PM

The warning was one of many to surface in a hurried rollout

Yeah because 4 1/2 years was long enough to win WWII but not enough time to get a web site to function. But I bet it looked pretty.

You see there is no media bias for the democrats or Obama and his controversial law that had bi-partisan opposition.

jukin3 on April 7, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Unless conservatives can come up with an Anne Sullivan, I fear we’ve already lost.

NiteOwl on April 7, 2014 at 8:48 AM

I would start with the Bill being floated by Paul Broun M.D. House Rep of Georgia, who is running for Senate.

Here’s the executive summary, which features full repeal of Obamacare, access across state lines, repeals tying HSAs to only high deductible plans, and more.

dominigan on April 7, 2014 at 1:36 PM

I read that Connecticut’s State Obamacare software is up and running with no major problems.

If that’s true why doesn’t CT and their vendor offer their working system for installation in places like Oregon and Maryland? For a price, of course.

I’m sure there would have to be adjustments but it looks like CT has the major problems licked

schmuck281 on April 8, 2014 at 12:54 AM