MNSure director forced out after taking vacation while ObamaCare burned

Minnesota’s ObamaCare exchange hasn’t attracted a lot of attention, except for its strange ad campaign and a jaw-dropping security breach this autumn, but MNSure hasn’t exactly distinguished itself as a success, either. The technical problems in the MNSure system have been so constant and intractable that even Governor Mark Dayton, an enthusiastic backer of ObamaCare, has been forced to publicly criticize the agency for its performance. Unlike the Obama administration, where the same people who produced the failure are in charge of fixing it, MNSure’s leadership got forced outafter returning from vacation:

The embattled director of the state’s fledgling health insurance exchange resigned Tuesday amid mounting criticism of her leadership and the troubled rollout of the new health care program.

MNsure executive director April Todd-Malmlov left her $136,000-a-year post during a closed-door meeting with the program’s executive committee. The board named Scott Leitz, the state’s assistant commissioner of health care, to the newly created position of interim CEO while it conducts a national search for a permanent chief executive. …

The outrage over Todd-Malmlov intensified following revelations that she and state Medicaid director James Golden took a nearly two-week tropical vacation late last month, even as the program was swamped with problems.

According to Star Tribune records, the two live together and have had worked closely on the implementation of the new exchange.

If that arrangement sounds a little questionable, then Scott Leitz’ appointment should raise eyebrows, too. KSTP reported in October that the state opened an investigation into Leitz after issuing an illegal exemption in a backroom deal with a major health care provider:

Fairview’s Amplatz Children’s Hospital was facing Medicaid cuts as part of a plan to save money in the program. But, according to the investigation, DHS employees grew concerned when Assistant Commissioner Leitz met with Fairview officials and agreed to exempt Amplatz from the Medicaid cuts because it is a children’s hospital. Investigative notes from the complaint indicate that over four years Amplatz could receive as much as $17.9 million from the State and Feds for a combined $35.8 million.

The DHS investigation says “it does not appear that DHS’ decision to give Amplatz retroactive exemption from the 10 percent (Medicaid) rate reduction was consistent with the law.” The whistle blowers contend in the complaint that Amplatz doesn’t qualify for the exemption from the Medicaid rate cut because it is not a licensed, stand-alone children’s hospital and it does not meet minimum requirements for treating a certain percentage of patients from low-income families.

Duluth’s St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital and Mayo’s Children’s Hospital are similar to Amplatz and do not receive the Medicaid exemption, according the complaint.

The initial investigation’s conclusions recommended immediate action on two allegations and a deeper investigation on three more.  So far, there’s no word on whether MDHS has done anything about Leitz, but MNSure’s endorsement isn’t exactly a ringing clarion call for excellence and judgment, to say the least.