The Banana Republic of Minnesota, Part 6: Who are these guys (or gals)?

Another media outlet has begun reporting on the growing scandal surrounding the Federal taxpayer- funded grants issued by the state government agency MNsure.  MNsure is the Obamacare arm in Minnesota about to launch a statewide health insurance exchange.  Since MNsure announced the list of 30 grant winners late last month, it’s turning out that some of MNsure’s “trusted community organizations” don’t qualify as any one of those three things.

Politics in Minnesota (PIM) reports on how—despite having one of the highest uninsured populations—local nonprofits serving the African-American community were largely shut out of the MNsure grants.

PIM reports that long-standing non-profit groups applying for grants–like the Stairstep Foundation (started 1992), the Minneapolis Urban League (founded 1926) and the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota (founded 1994)—were among the more than 70 organizations denied by MNsure.  Late last week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the University of Minnesota and Children’s Hospitals were also among the trusted community organizations not receiving grants.

However, a for-profit company–Somali Health Solutions, founded in November 2012—was among MNsure’s chosen 30.  It’s not clear how community organizations with decades of experience were passed over in favor of a less-than-year-old private company.

In addition to the Somali company, recently-formed for-profit companies Lyon-Dugin Associates (founded 2012) and Health Access MN (founded 2013) were also given grants.  Looking for patterns, it appears that all three have women as owners or co-owners.  Could there be a quota within the quotas at work here?

PIM reports that MNsure staff made the funding decisions.  PIM also reports that a MNsure official is holding out the possibility that other groups could get grants if negotiations with one or more of the chosen 30 don’t pan out.

It looks like this topic will be discussed by both a legislative committee and the MNsure board next week.  Let’s hope that real questions get asked and real answers demanded.

Cross-posted and comments welcome at Bill Glahn.