An independent consultant has issued a damning report of the state's troubled online insurance marketplace.
MNsure executives have been making decisions in a "crisis mode," the report states. What the program needs is a clear definition of an accountable executive program leader.
MNsure's board members called for the end-to-end review after the website continued to experience major technological issues three months after it launched.
The report found the agency's ambitious enrollment goals will suffer as a result.
"While MNsure will fall short of achieving its original enrollment goals and consumer satisfaction levels, continuous improvements can be made in both the short-term and long-term," the report states.
That said, Optum's analysis says those problems won't be fixed quickly and the options the state should consider include scrapping the system altogether and starting over.
Optum also says MNsure needs 100 more call center staff to get wait times down from the current duration of more than 50 minutes.
MNsure's woes extend from its call center to the technology the state licensed to build the site.
A "large gap exists between required functionality and what has been delivered," the report states. Technological testing was inadequate, and schedules took precedent over quality.
In particular, Optum faulted IBM Curam for more than 100 defects in its software - more than twice as many as any other vendor on the MNsure project.
In December, Gov. Mark Dayton blasted IBM, which responded that improvements were underway.
But it's not just the Curam software that has contributed to the site's technical problems.
There's a "significant gap" in program management at MNsure, which has made software development, testing and readiness difficult.
Among other things, Optum recommends MNsure adopt a clearer reporting, communication and governance structure.
Meanwhile, MNsure's call center is not only overloaded but disorganized, which also has hurt customer service. More than 3,000 people call the center daily, but because people trying to enroll are intermingled with people who have non-enrollment questions, wait times are long.
Despite MNsure's problems, roughly 80,000 people have enrolled in either a private plan or a public program like Medical Assistance.
But that's still behind where MNsure hopes to be. MNsure wants about 70,000 people to enroll in private plans by April 1, but they're only about 40 percent of the way there, according to Scott Leitz, MNsure's interim chief executive.
The report offered these eight steps to help with short- and long-term challenges:
1. Reduce contact center wait times and improve customer satisfaction through additional contact center staff and process improvements.
2. Improve planning and decision making by reinstating the program governance structure that existed prior to 10/1/13, including proper oversight and key leadership positions.
3. Deliver higher value software releases aimed at improving the customer portal experience and throughput by establishing a strong prioritization process for defects and functional capabilities.
4. Improve software quality by enhancing testing environments and establishing a dedicated quality assurance team.
5. Secure commitment from IBM to deliver critical Curam product releases and long-term product viability.
6. Establish a technology roadmap to address architectural issues, such as a source of truth database, unique customer identifier, integration hub, and operational data stores.
7. Define business requirements that address missing functionality and integration needs across the multiple state systems (e.g., life events and enrollment). This will inform technology investment priorities for 2014 and 2015.
8. Immediately develop exchange solution options for 2015 and 2016.