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Lawmakers upset with late MNsure forms

ST. PAUL -- The state's failure to promptly mail critical tax forms to Minnesotans who enrolled in health insurance plans through MNsure may be corrected, but lawmakers remain angry. Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore, said Wednesday that he is dis...

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ST. PAUL -- The state's failure to promptly mail critical tax forms to Minnesotans who enrolled in health insurance plans through MNsure may be corrected, but lawmakers remain angry.

Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Lake Shore, said Wednesday that he is disappointed "no heads have rolled. ... This has been a disaster since Day 1."

Anderson and other legislators in a House committee blasted MNsure's failure to send tax forms out on time, breaking state law.

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MNsure Chief Executive Officer Allison O'Toole and Scott Peterson of the state's technology office took responsibility for the failure when testifying in front of the House State Government Finance Committee. MNsure uses a website where Minnesotans may buy health insurance; those receiving government-subsidized insurance must use MNsure.

A Wednesday a letter revealed most MNsure customers received the form two months after the health insurance exchange was supposed to send them out and three weeks before Tax Day.

In a letter to lawmakers, O’Toole and state information technology Commissioner Thomas Baden said 93 percent of 1095-A tax forms have been mailed out, with “the small remainder” to be “sent by the end of this week.”

That remainder is about 3,000 forms out of the 43,674 MNsure had to send out this year.

Last week there were more than 13,000 forms outstanding, and the exchange had just managed to send out about  1,000 forms over the previous week - a pace that would have left MNsure unable to get all the forms out by the April 18 tax deadline.

The forms are finally underway because MNsure solved technical issues that had prevented the forms from being automatically generated, O’Toole and Baden wrote. With persistent failure of that automated system, MNsure had been reduced to manually processing the forms.

O'Toole responded to Anderson's comments that someone should be fired.

"There have been personnel changes..." O'Toole said. "There maybe more, I don't know."

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She said MNsure will evaluate the problem and see what is needed to fix it. "Everything is on the table."

Anderson said he cannot accept the problem.

"So far, everything I have heard from MNsure has been the same excuse and no heads have rolled yet," Anderson said.

The exchange came during discussion about a bill, which eventually passed the committee, that would compensate people whose tax forms arrived late.

Delays proved contagious for the 1095-A forms this year, with MNsure leaders repeatedly predicting imminent distribution of the forms and then announcing later that the goal had not been met.

Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers criticized the delays and leadership choices that contributed to them.

“We’re past the point where MNsure is a startup,” Dayton said last week. “This snag should have been anticipated and these steps to bring in more personnel should have been undertaken before this time.”

“While all tax forms are now on track to be mailed, MNsure and MN.IT take full responsibility for not achieving Minnesotans’ expectations,” O’Toole and Baden wrote.

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The two agencies will conduct a review of this year’s 1095-A process.

Republicans, who are frequent critics of MNsure, have called for “accountability” for MNsure leaders. Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, introduced a bill to reimburse Minnesotans affected by the 1095-A delay $10 for every day after Feb. 1 their forms were late - money that would come out of MNsure’s budget.

 

Forum News Service's Don Davis contributed to this story. The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

Related Topics: HEALTH
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