Gina Anderson

MNsure throwing curveball at HHS Department

Staff Writer
Ken Francis


More than two weeks into the new healthcare program MNsure, county health and human services (HHS) departments are still waiting to figure out who is eligible for assistance.
Tuesday, Gina Anderson, income maintenance supervisor with Sherburne County HHS, told the county board there is a problem at the state level.
“The state is experiencing technical difficulties in implementing the program,” she said. “Currently, the issue is that we are unable to access the determination system.”
Without the information from the state’s CURAM database, HHS can’t process applications. The county checks income and assets for individuals who applied and determines who can get assistance.
“That means I don’t have the number of applications that we have on hold status for Sherburne County,” she said. “I’ve requested those numbers. Every county has requested those numbers but we haven’t received an answer yet.”
Anderson said individuals have three options when signing up for MNsure. They can apply to begin coverage Jan. 1, 2014, get current coverage or retroactive back to Oct. 1.
“Our big concern are those applicants who are submitting applications to the state who are wanting eligibility to be determined in the current month or potentially retroactive coverage,” she said. “That’s our main concern at this time.”
For anyone applying in October, there is a 45-day period to determine eligibility, which is allowed by federal guidelines.
Commissioner Felix Schmiesing asked about the status of the applications.
“Do you know of anyone that’s gotten their coverage?” he asked.
“Not yet,” said Anderson. “Once we receive the applications and they’re processed, the eligibility will go back to Oct. 1 for those people who are requiring retro coverage.” 
Commissioner Rachel Leonard asked if there would be a problem about processing applications within the 45-day period.
“We’re fairly certain the state would allow us to honor eligibility going back to Oct. 1 should there be an issue where we can’t meet the 45 days,” she said. “It would be no fault to the individual who is making the application.”
Schmiesing said at least the county HHS is keeping up its end of the process.
“You’re ready. You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re just not getting things back,” he said.  “The point is Sherburne County is ready to do this. Our other partners in this effort weren’t ready.”
“This is a very large scale project,” said Anderson. “I can’t say that anyone was surprised that there were technical issues. But I know we’re all very anxious for those to get resolved.”


Mike Zdychnec, Executive Program Director for Healthcare Management at MN School of Business. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

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