MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: MNsure receives federal grant
ST. PAUL -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded Minnesota's health insurance exchange a 41 million dollar grant to continue implementation of MNsure. MNsure.org is the online marketplace where Minnesotans can shop for health insurance coverage and compare plans. The federal grant will be used for general operations at MNsure, along with IT work, technology costs including security training, consumer satisfaction surveys and other costs. MNsure enrollment opened October 1st and as of last week nearly four-thousand people had enrolled in a plan.
A Minnesota insurance company has accepted part of the blame for the disastrous rollout of the online health insurance exchange developed under the Affordable Care Act. The vice president of Minnetoka-based United Health's Optum unit told lawmakers in a Congressional hearing that the company fixed it's glitches quickly -- but Andrew Slavitt says he understands the frustration of those trying unsuccessfully to sign up for insurance under the national health care exchange. Optum acquired Quality Software Services Inc. last year and the government paid the company $85 million to help build the health care website. The federal site serves three dozen states but not Minnesota, which built its own MNsure portal. Slavitt says the website was overwhelmed by thousands of people trying to register when the website opened.
In an article just published in the National Review, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is urging President Obama to make compliance with Obamacare voluntary. Bachmann says clearly it's not ready for public consumption and, until it is, the American people need to be free to not comply with "this burdensome law." She calls the rollout an "absolute disaster." Bachmann's comments come the day after lead contractors on the health insurance website testified before a U-S House committee that the government did not thoroughly test the system before it went live. Eighth District Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan said Wednesday the president should "man up, find out who was responsible and fire them."
Fresh, healthy food is in high demand at food shelves across the state. Rob Zeaske with Second Harvest Heartland food bank in the Twin Cities says they're trying to "pivot" from providing food that used to be in the system as waste, and switch to more healthy types of food to prevent obesity and diabetes -- and also culturally-specific foods for populations they serve. Zeaske says food shelf use remains in record territory across the state.
The Minnesota Vikings are reminding fans to be on the lookout for counterfeit tickets to Sunday's sold-out Packers game. It will be the final matchup between the NFC North rivals inside the Metrodome. The team recommends fans only purchase tickets through authorized outlets including the Vikings ticket office, Ticketmaster and the NFL TicketExchange. Those caught with a phoney ticket will not be allowed in the stadium and could be subject to investigation. Local broker TicketKing says tickets for the Vikings and Packers are not going very fast and they have several hundred remaining for Sunday's game.
An outside firm will be hired to review the files of priests by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Archbishop John Nienstadt made the announcement Thursday, admitting over the past decade, "some serious mistakes have been made." The archdiocese is under fire for how it has handled allegations of sexual abuse by priests over the years.
Authorities have released the name of a man who was fatally shot in Shakopee Tuesday night. The Hennepin County medical examiner's office identified the victim as 32-year-old Aaron Moran of Shakopee. Officers were dispatched to a house on a report of an armed robbery and when they arrived they found Moran suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police continue to search for a suspect and don't believe the public is in any danger