Video: Former MNsure chief wants to get paid to cooperate with probe of meltdown

“You can’t make any of this up,” says the WCCO news anchor, but it’s just par for the course with April Todd-Malmlov. Hot Air readers may recall that Todd-Malmlov served as the executive director of MNsure up through the October 2013 rollout, which was an even bigger disaster in Minnesota than was at the national level. When the system utterly failed on October 1, Todd-Malmlov reassured Minnesotans that it would all come together … in a few days. Shortly after that, with the system still failing, she took a Caribbean vacation with the state’s Medicaid director, James Golden, with whom she lives. The MNsure board forced her out, but the damage had been done — and Todd-Malmlov had been warned for months that it was coming.

The scandal forced the then-Democratic legislature to demand an audit of MNsure, but the auditor ran into a problem. Todd-Malmlov wanted to get paid to cooperate, and wanted Minnesota taxpayers to foot the bill for her attorneys, too.

No, really … you can’t make this up:

MNsure’s former executive director, April Todd-Malmlov, resigned under pressure — not just because the website melted down, but because, for part of it, she was on a week-long vacation in the Caribbean.

James Nobles, the state’s legislative auditor, spent a year figuring out what went wrong, and he says Todd-Malmlov refused to cooperate.

“She would participate and respond if we paid her,” Nobles said.

Audit documents obtained by WCCO-TV show the auditor tried for months to interview Todd-Malmlov, finally issuing a subpoena to testify on Oct. 4.

Minnesota law does require the state to pick up expenses for non-government employees when cooperating with a probe, but that usually means travel and boarding expenses — not consultation fees and attorney costs. After making $136,000 a year in salary to deliver a complete failure — and then to take a paid vacation while her system floundered — one might think that Todd-Malmlov might have felt as though Minnesota taxpayers had been fleeced enough. Obviously not.

Nobles didn’t come away impressed with either Todd-Malmlov or MNsure:

Minnesota Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles on Tuesday ripped MNsure and its leadership for bungling the launch of the health insurance exchange.

Widespread problems with MNsure’s online enrollment system and customer service caused big problems for consumers, insurers, counties and the Department of Human Services, the auditor’s report said.

Dayton tried a that-was-then-this-is-now approach to his pet project, but Republicans weren’t having any of it:

Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday said he hadn’t read the entire MNsure audit but emphasized that the review was done during its troubled first year and that it’s improved since then.

Still, the governor said, “the buck stops with me” when it comes to MNsure’s accountability.

GOP lawmakers jumped on the audit as evidence MNsure needs to be overhauled.

The report “confirms what we have known to be true: MNsure is still failing to meet the promises of its Democrat architects,” state House Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, said in a statement.

Republicans hit much closer to the mark. Last night, MNsure announced that it had missed its originally announced enrollment goal for 2015 by 40%:

Minnesota’s health insurance exchange fell short of another enrollment goal this year, though MNsure’s user experience appeared to be greatly improved from its rocky 2013 debut.

Just over 60,000 people signed up for individual health insurance plans on MNsure in its 2015 open enrollment period, which ran from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15.

That was below the target of 67,000 that MNsure’s board set in December, and far below the original target of 100,000 enrollees.

In fact, Minnesota still hasn’t reached its enrollment target for 2013-14:

Although plenty of low-income people have successfully used MNsure to sign up for the state’s public health programs such as Medical Assistance, it’s failed to attract many middle-income customers with commercial coverage offered by private insurance companies. People earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line can buy subsidized insurance on MNsure, while people earning more can shop for unsubsidized insurance.

In 2014, MNsure signed up about 47,000 customers for commercial coverage. That was well short of its projection of almost 70,000 by March 31, 2014 — a target the exchange has yet to reach a year later.

What does Todd-Malmlov have to say for herself about this? Make sure you have your checkbook handy before asking, proles.

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