Johnson calls for Oversight chairs resignation

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson stepped into the MNsure mess:

Thursday, December 19, Plymouth, Minn. — Saying that they’ve completely failed to provide any oversight of Minnesota’s deeply troubled health insurance exchange, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson today called for the resignations of the two co-chairs of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee—Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) and Sen. Tony Lourey (DFL-Kerrick).

“Abysmal failure. There’s no other way to accurately describe the performance of the co-chairs charged with leading legislative oversight of Minnesota’s insurance exchange,” Johnson said. “The MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee has not met in three months. Meanwhile, the exchange’s website has melted down, MNsure’s executive director has been forced to resign and thousands of Minnesotans are about to be without health insurance come January 1. It was never appropriate to have the two legislative authors of MNsure charged with its oversight, as they have an inherent interest in avoiding any discussion of its problems or failures. It’s time to bring in new, conflict-of-interest-free co-chairs, preferably ones who do not have rooms named after them at MNsure’s office.”

In addition to calling for Atkins and Lourey to resign from the oversight committee, Johnson also called for their replacements to be bipartisan—with one co-chair appointed by DFL legislative leaders and the other appointed by Republican legislative leaders.

“While I don’t believe a government-controlled exchange will ever work, the Democrats have given us one for now, so an all DFL-led committee will never give Minnesotans the oversight of this super-secret quasi-government agency that we need. Only a bipartisan-led committee – not just of cheerleaders but also of skeptics – can provide true oversight.”

The co-chairs need to be one Republican, one Democrat because Democrats have refused to hold oversight hearings to protect Gov. Dayton, former globetrotter April Todd-Malmlov and the Democrats who voted for MNsure-enabling legislation.

At the Sept. 24th meeting, the last meeting held by the committee, Sen. Sean Nienow demanded answers to his questions about website security. He got his answers less than 36 hours before Malmlov’s resignation this week.

Clearly, Sen. Lourey and Rep. Atkins did everything possible run interference for Malmlov and the exchange. The public’s distrust is justified by the chair’s actions.

Commissioner Johnson’s recommendation that the chairs be bipartisan should’ve been adopted from the start. Having the people who wrote the legislation chair the oversight committee offers too great an opportunity for them to hide the exchange’s problems. Now that the Democrats have earned our distrust, it’s time to do things right. If the DFL won’t provide oversight, the GOP will be the adults in the room and ask the tough, legitimate questions.