Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters Thursday that he's "incredulous" over the technical glitches and long wait times that some Minnesotans are still encountering when they log into or call the state's new MNsure health exchange.
"They need to fix these glitches. They need to be staffed up," Dayton told reporters.
"I'm incredulous they were as short of staff as they were to receive these inquiries, as apparently they are by the number of people they're adding and are going to add."
So far 45,000 Minnesotans have enrolled in MNsure, the first step toward buying private coverage or signing up for government subsidized plan through the exchange. Of that group, 25,000 have gone ahead and secured coverage that will begin Jan. 1.
Dayton said he remains deeply concerned about whether the flaws can be removed by Dec. 23, the deadline for those who want to buy plans with coverage beginning Jan. 1.
"I think we're past the point where MNsure's problems are acceptable and people who are calling should have prompt and efficient service," Dayton said.
"It's unacceptable, the delays people are having, but it's also an enormously complex task. Let's see how they perform in the next week to 10 days. I think this is a very critical period."
Dayton acknowledged that MNsure has outperformed the federal health exchange and some of the other state exchanges, but he said he'll remain troubled until the system delivers the type of "one-stop shopping" that lawmakers and administrators originally predicted.
He also found himself fielding questions from reporters about a blog report that said MNsure's executive director, April Todd- Malmlov, was on vacation for eight days in late November.
"Whatever the employment arrangements are with the executive director, or anyone else on the staff, ultimately that's the board's responsibility," Dayton said, adding that Todd-Malmlov had worked extremely hard since being hired by the MNsure board of directors.
MNsure issued a statement confirming that Todd-Malmlov took eight days of vacation, but adding she was in telephone and email contact with other MNsure staffers and kept the lines of communications open during her absence.