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Mark Dayton's impending MNsure disaster

Honest people would wholeheartedly agree that last year's rollout of MNsure was a disaster. Based on Deloitte's report, which MNsure commissioned Deloitte to do, this year might be worse. The information on page 8 of Deloitte's report is alarming:

Since the Fall of 2013, much of the State's efforts have been focused on addressing issues that arose at the time of the initial open enrollment period (Oct. 1, 2013). As the nation moves toward the Fall of 2014 (open enrollment for Benefit Year 2015), in addition to supporting initial enrollment, a State's Health Insurance Exchange must also be able to process the renewal of existing enrollment base. These additional demands compound the remediation efforts that have been underway in Minnesota.

During the assessment, 47 of the 73 sub-functions addressed were found either to be absent or not functioning as expected. Six of the 73 sub-functions could be considered for implementation post-open enrollment. The remaining 41 sub-functions need to be provided for the 2015 Open Enrollment either through changes/enhancements to the systems or through contingent means.

In other words, from a programming standpoint, last year wasn't as complex as this year's open enrollment will be. Here's a summary of what Deloitte found:

  • the things that were set in motion last year won't work this year, partially because the renewal process is a complex process;
  • only 6 of the sub-functions identified could be implemented before this year's open enrollment and
  • the other 41 sub-functions can't be performed without direct human intervention this year.

Last year, MNsure only had to accept new applications, which it didn't handle well. This year, MNsure will be required to accept new applications while renewing Medicaid policies. That's before talking about renewing Qualified Health Plans, aka QHPs.

Here's more bad news for Gov. Dayton and the MNsure Board:

Sixteen of the needed 41 sub-functions have been represented by the system vendors as being identified for implementation in releases before November, 2014. The 3 most critical absent functions are included in this release plan: (1) Changes in circumstances, (2) Medicaid renewals and (3) Qualified Health Plan (QHP) renewals. Implementing each of these sub-functions will involve several of the components of the system, utilize complex logic and functionality, and impact a large number of MNsure users. Some of the system requirements for this functionality have not been finalized. If this functionality isn't implemented on schedule, its absence could have a significant adverse impact on MNsure operations during open enrollment.

According to Deloitte's report, some of the system requirements that will be needed for MNsure to function properly haven't been figured out, much less implemented. With just 4 months left before open enrollment for 2015 starts, it's a safe bet that MNsure will be a bigger mess than last year from a technical standpoint.

Further, if MNsure's functionality isn't fully implemented, it likely will have "a significant adverse impact on MNsure operations during open enrollment."

Additionally, changes in families (births, deaths, marriages, divorces, etc.) will put additional stress on MNsure. The other thing Deloitte mentioned is that some of "the things that were set in motion last year won't work this year."

It's highly irresponsible or disgustingly dishonest for Gov. Dayton to suggest that MNsure is working well. Most of MNsure's accomplishments were done by staffers doing things manually. That isn't how things should work after MNsure spent $160,000,000 on a website that was supposed to be state-of-the-art.

Nearly 2 years after its rollout, MNsure still isn't working properly. In fact, important parts of it don't even exist. That's what failure, not success, looks like.

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