If this article is accurate, then the DFL is flirting with another MNsure disaster. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Is your baby married? It’s a ridiculous question. But if you just had a baby and went to MNsure to update your family status, the health exchange website may ask you anyway.

Agents wouldn’t ask this question because they know better. Thanks to the MNsure world of assinine questions and unreliable manual workarounds, parents will get annoyed when they’re asked this question. If only that was MNsure’s only problem. But I digress. Back to MNsure’s failures:

One example: It used to take five minutes to add a baby to a plan under Medical Assistance, Minnesota’s version of Medicaid, but now that Medical Assistance runs through MNsure it takes about 45 minutes and “you have to say whether or not a baby is married,” said Dakota County director of employment and economic assistance Marti Fischbach, who helps clients sign up for plans.

This isn’t gossip. It’s a quote from someone who works with MNsure on a daily basis. Based on this quote, it sounds like the question gets asked of each parent changing their status. This is understatement:

MNsure Chief Operating Officer Katie Burns on Wednesday admitted there are still major problems with entering life event changes. Much of the work is not automated and data must be entered manually, she told the MNsure board. “It’s much more cumbersome right now than ideally it needs to be over the longer term,” she said.

That’s world class spin. In the real world, Ms. Burns would’ve said that the process sucks. Technorati: , , , , , , ,

This morning’s startling news that PreferredOne dropped out of MNsure is the latest in a lengthy litany of problems MNsure has dealt with since its rollout. First, there were the mismanagement issues that State Sen. Michelle Benson highlighted. Then there was Jim Nobles’ announcement that the Office of Legislative Auditor would audit MNsure. After that, WCCO’s Pat Kessler reported that MNsure executives lied to him.

Like I said, it’s a lengthy list of problems. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, that lengthy list isn’t even close to being a comprehensive list. I could double that list and still not have a comprehensive list of MNsure’s problems. It’s that big of a disaster.

This afternoon, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum. Zach Dorholt put his foot in his mouth when he said “This is a huge change. You can’t have change without anxiety.”

Rep. Dorholt, these aren’t growing pains. They’re ongoing problems that can’t be fixed in the next couple years. This isn’t a bump in the road. They’re a Humvee-sized pothole. In fact, they’re a Humvee-sized pothole that you voted to create.

Thanks to the misadministration of MNsure, PreferredOne is pulling out of MNsure. Since PreferredOne had the lowest premiums in MNsure, that likely means the price increase in health insurance premiums will likely go up much higher than before PreferredOne’s announcement.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL, Rep. Dorholt included, owns this disaster. Every vote for final passage of the bill creating MNsure came from Democrats. Republicans refused to vote for it because they knew it’d be an unmitigated disaster.

The website still isn’t working. Health insurance premiums are going up. Provider networks are getting smaller. Things that once took minutes now take months to do. That’s what an unmitigated disaster looks like.

Finally, now that one health insurance provider has dropped out of MNsure, it’s more likely that another provider will follow PreferredOne’s path. PreferredOne essentially said that they can’t make money through MNsure. Why wouldn’t others follow PreferredOne’s lead?

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Mark Dayton’s explanation for why PreferredOne is leaving MNsure is stunning:

Gov. Mark Dayton says a key provider’s decision to drop out of the state-run health exchange is competition in action.

Gov. Dayton either doesn’t understand free market capitalism or he’s doing his best to hide the fact that MNsure is a failure. The other possibility is that he’s hiding the fact that MNsure is a failure and he doesn’t understand free market capitalism.

PreferredOne’s decision was based on MNsure’s problems:

“PreferredOne Spokesman Steve Peterson tells Hauser this is “purely a business decision.” He says the company decided continuing to offer insurance through MNsure is “not administratively and financially sustainable going forward.”

“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” a company statement says.

Competition didn’t drive PreferredOne from the market. MNsure’s administrative requirements drove PreferredOne’s decision. PreferredOne’s decision was also driven by the fact that government regulations made it virtually impossible for them to make a profit. Why would a company volunteer to do tons of work and not get paid for that work?

Dayton says the company gained market share due to its low rates.

PreferredOne dropped out because it’s impossible to continue to offer those low rates. That means rates will increase this fall.

When it comes to public embarassments, Mark Dayton wrote the book on the subject. Now he’s calling Adrian Peterson’s behavior embarassing:

It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be “innocent until proven guilty.” However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.

However, I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans.

Like many of his worst moments, Gov. Dayton’s statement will give thoughtful people intellectual whiplash. First, he says that Adrian Peterson is entitled to due process and “should be ‘innocent until proven guilty.'” Next, Gov. Dayton said that the Vikings should suspend him until he’s had his day in court.

That doesn’t make sense. What happens if Peterson is found guilty? At that point, the NFL has the right, under its personal conduct policy, to tack on an additional suspension. That additional suspension might be indefinite, meaning Adrian Peterson will have been suspended twice for a single offense.

Actually, that might not be legal because of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association. If that’s the case, Gov. Dayton might’ve just told the Vikings to ignore the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.

I don’t doubt that Mark Dayton will react by saying that he didn’t know about the particulars of the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement. That’s shameful. This was a prepared statement. His staff should’ve done their research. They should’ve known about this provision in the NFL-NFLPA CBA.

The governor of a state should known what he’s talking about. Unfortunately, Gov. Dayton hasn’t done what smart governors have done. He’s shot his mouth off for political purposes, only to have to walk his statements back.

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This article will certainly impact the governor’s race in addition to impacting health insurance prices and health care networks:

Golden Valley-based PreferredOne Health Insurance just notified MNsure and the Minnesota Department of Commerce of their decision through a letter. Sources tell KSTP’s Tom Hauser that MNsure CEO Scott Leitz was notified by phone Tuesday morning.

PreferredOne Spokesman Steve Peterson tells Hauser this is “purely a business decision.” He says the company decided continuing to offer insurance through MNsure is “not administratively and financially sustainable going forward.”

“Our MNsure individual product membership is only a small percentage of the entire PreferredOne enrollment but is taking a significant amount of our resources to support administratively,” a company statement says. “We feel continuing on MNsure was not sustainable and believe this is an important step to best serve all PreferredOne members.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is damning information, too:

The company also says MNsure was unable to effectively verify information submitted by enrollees, but insurance companies are still required to accept and enroll them. As a result, the company ended up with enrollees who don’t even live in Minnesota in some cases.

That’s damning because it says MNsure still can’t provide health insurance companies verified information. That says MNsure is still winging it.

That’s a damning indictment against Gov. Dayton, the DFL and MNsure. This was supposed to be Gov. Dayton’s signature accomplishment. This morning’s news is turning MNsure into Gov. Dayton’s biggest failure. MNsure’s latest calamity is an indictment against the DFL legislature, too. They bought into Obamacare lock, stock and barrel because their ideology told them this was a great idea.

PreferredOne disagrees with Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL legislature’s decision. Apparently, MNsure is, in PreferredOne’s opinion, a disaster waiting to happen.

As of Aug. 6, Preferred One had 59 percent of the individual market MNsure enrollees. Blue Cross Blue Shield was a distant second at 23 percent, with HealthPartners, Medica and UCare much further back. Preferred One got such a large share because they had the lowest rates of the five insurance companies in the program.

I can’t wait to hear the DFL spinmeisters attempt to spin this as anything other than a disaster. People chose PreferredOne because their rates were the lowest in MNsure.

It’s possible this could signal big rate increases to be unveiled in early October, and that could have a significant impact on the elections.

PreferredOne didn’t get 59% of the MNsure health insurance market by having health insurance policies that were a little cheaper than its competitors. It got 60% of the market by being significantly cheaper than its competitors.

This won’t trigger other health insurance companies to lower their rates, which means the average price for a health insurance policy will go up more than originally expected. If that happens, this news has the potential to dramatically change the dynamics of the gubernatorial election and the legislative races. Jeff Johnson’s statement cuts to the heart of the matter:

“This is yet another example of everyday, middle-class Minnesotans paying the price for Mark Dayton’s incompetence. Six out of 10 people who’ve purchased insurance through MNsure will now have to go through the nightmare process of purchasing another plan all over again-thanks to Mark Dayton.

We now know that Mark Dayton’s claim about MNsure having some of the lowest rates in the country was artificial and based on a house of cards.

Nobody but Mark Dayton is to blame for this whole debacle. As he always does when his actions hurt Minnesotans, Dayton will try to blame everyone but himself. But he created MNsure and hand-picked its board and staff. This is all on him.”

Actually, I have to correct Jeff on one detail. The MNsure calamity isn’t just Gov. Dayton’s fault. It’s the DFL legislature’s fault, too. Otherwise, everything Jeff Johnson said is right. Potentially, this is Gov. Dayton’s worst nightmare. If health insurance prices spike by 10-15%, which is what’s rumored, Gov. Dayton’s biggest accomplishment will turn into a weighty millstone around his neck.

This has the potential to totally shake up legislative races, too. Almost every DFL legislator voted to create MNsure. If health insurance premiums jump, the DFL will have to take all the blame because Republicans refused to vote for this disaster.

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Last fall, I wrote this post to highlight how empty ISELF was. ISELF was so disappointing that KSTP’s Tom Hauser interviewed me about the calamity. Leah McLean wrapped up KSTP’s article by saying “Still, they are saying they are hopeful that the building will be fully operational by the spring semester or early next year.”

It’s now fall semester at SCSU. That definitely qualifies as “early next year” based on the context SCSU officials used in their interview with KSTP. It’s time to see if ISELF is fully operational and filled with students. This ISELF lab doesn’t look like it’s getting used:

Classrooms and labs aren’t always a good indicator. The ISELF STEM Cafe should be a better indicator of activity in ISELF:

That looks like the ISELF building from last year. This picture tells a disturbing story:

If you look closely at how Room 108 is being used, you’ll see it’s being used for “African Studies.” It’s clear that SCSU made a decision to fill the building up with whatever classes were willing to use the building. As is usually the case, SCSU administration means President Potter.

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t point out that ISELF is getting some legitimate use:

When Tom Hauser interviewed Dan Gregory, Gregory said that they normally don’t have grand opening ceremonies on buildings until 3-4 months after they’ve opened. Then Gregory made this too-clever-by-half statement: In this case, we opened it strategically.

If that’s true, which I’d bet it isn’t, then Gregory’s strategy failed miserably. You can put a ton more lipstick on that white elephant but the truth is that it’s a financial albatross to Minnesota’s taxpayers.

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This Mike McFadden ad hits Al Franken right between his eyes:

Here’s the transcript of the ad:

I’m Mike McFadden and we need an honest debate about our future. [Graphic: Al Franken voted with President Obama 97% of the time, the most partisan senator in America.] I won’t vote 97% with any president or party. [Graphic: Al Franken is rarely seen in Minnesota.] I’ll work for Minnesota, not Washington, not Hollywood. I’m Mike McFadden and I approve this message. Minnesota just can’t afford an invisible senator with invisible results.

That’s a great ad because it turns Sen. Franken’s strategy against him. Thus far, Sen. Franken has worked hard to look like the no nonsense senator who gets things done.

McFadden turns Franken’s carefully crafted image against Franken by rightly characterizing Sen. Franken as an “invisible senator with invisible results.” Franken can’t point to anything where he’s worked with a Republican to bring people together. That’s why he’s the most partisan senator in the US Senate, which is quite a feat considering the fact that Elizabeth Warren is in the same Senate.

Perhaps Franken has kept his head down because of embarassing things like this:

After talking with a Supreme Court nominee about Perry Mason during a confirmation hearing, you only have 2 choices. Either you keep talking about frivolous things like that, which will lead even ardent supporters to stop taking you seriously, or you put your head down and not say anything to anyone until you’ve been re-elected.

Franken chose the latter option. He’s still keeping his head down, avoiding debates with the hope that he won’t embarass himself during a primetime debate that’s televised statewide.

There’s no disputing the fact that Franken has kept his head down. There’s no dispute, either, that Sen. Franken isn’t the brightest bulb in the DFL’s chandelier. He’s kept his head down because it’s the only way he’s avoided damaging himself politically.

If the real Al Franken appeared, Franken’s charade would be over. He isn’t a serious politician. He’s a lightweight who isn’t qualified to solve the biggest problems facing Minnesota and the United States.

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Who Cares about Rankings?
by Silence Dogood

The people at the top certainly do! U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of Colleges and Universities are out. There are winners and there are losers.

The rankings of the Top Public Schools (Regional Universities—Midwest) listing Minnesota schools is shown in the following table.

Out of the 39 schools ranked, five of the seven MnSCU universities are listed. SCSU finished behind Winona State University and Minnesota State University—Mankato and is tied with Bemidji State University for 33rd out of 39. Perhaps this is a big move up in the rankings for SCSU and everyone should be proud. If so, there will probably be a news release announcing the move up. Most likely, however, it will fail to mention that SCSU is tied for third with Bemidji and behind both Winona and Mankato. Even less likely is a press release if SCSU’s ranking fell from 2014 to 2015.

As I said, those at the top care. Winona State University already has a press release announcing that they are the second highest ranked university in Minnesota and the highest ranked university in MnSCU.

Do rankings matter? Apparently they do since both Winona State and Mankato have larger numbers of new entering freshmen than does SCSU. Perhaps SCSU should hire another consultant to tell them how to improve their ranking. Just kidding. President Potter, we still need to pay for the loss on the Coborn’s Plaza Apartments.

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This ad, paid for by the House DFL Caucus, says that Zach Dorholt is “delivering for St. Cloud and the middle class”:

Like I said in this post, the DFL dances to the tune that Education Minnesota tells them to dance to. Zach Dorholt is no different. Like the rest of his DFL colleagues in the House of Representatives, Zach voted against teacher accountability because that’s what Education Minnesota told them to do. Rather than doing what’s right for Minnesota’s students and parents, Zach Dorholt and the DFL decided they couldn’t risk Education Minnesota pulling their campaign contributions or their Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operations.

When it’s a fight between doing what’s right for parents and students or doing what’s right for Education Minnesota, Zach Dorholt and the DFL will always fight for Education Minnesota.

The best way I can illustrate who the DFL fights for is to ask everyone when the last time was that the DFL picked the people instead of picking one of their special interest allies. Take your time. Do your research. Go through all of the DFL’s votes. That includes Zach Dorholt’s votes. Check out their votes in committee. Check out their votes on the GOP’s amendments to bills.

I’d bet that the DFL sided with the people less than 5% of the time when it was a fight between the people and one of the DFL’s special interest allies.

Let’s take this from the theoretical to the concrete. At their State Convention, did the DFL side with the blue collar workers of the Iron Range or the Twin Cities plutocrats and trust fund babies on mining? Did Dorholt and the DFL side with the women who ran in-home child care businesses or did they side with their friends in the SEIU and AFSCME instead?

The simple answer is that the DFL didn’t side with blue collar miners or the women who run in-home child care businesses. The DFL took the side of their special interest allies. Not once but twice. Unfortunately, those weren’t the only times that Zach Dorholt and the DFL didn’t take the people’s side.

In the spring of 2013, convenience stores lobbied the DFL legislature not to raise the cigarette tax, saying that raising the cigarette tax would hurt convenience stores on the Minnesota borders with North Dakota or Wisconsin. Zach Dorholt and the DFL couldn’t resist the ideological pull. They raised the cigarette tax, which led to Minnesotans driving to North Dakota or Wisconsin to buy their cigarettes.

Thanks to Zach Dorholt’s and the DFL’s decisions, middle class Minnesotans are getting squeezed. Despite significant increases in LGA and school funding, people’s property tax bills are going up. The jobs created during the time when the DFL controlled the entire state government are mostly part-time jobs or they’re low-paying jobs.

The unemployment rate on the Iron Range is 64.3% higher than the statewide average, thanks mostly to policies advocated for by environmental activists.

Zach Dorholt and the DFL are delivering. Unfortunately, they’re delivering for Education Minnesota and their other special interest allies, not for the middle class.

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This afternoon, as with most afternoons, I DVRed NFL Live on ESPN. This time, I was disappointed with the demagoguery of Trey Wingo, the host of the show, and Jeff Saturday, one of the panelists on the show. As expected, their lede was the Vikings’ reactivation of star running back Adrian Peterson in the aftermath of Peterson’s indictment in Texas on charges that he abused his 4-year-old son.

During the Vikings’ press conference this afternoon, Vikings GM Rick Spielman faced a barrage of questions questioning how the Vikings could reactivate Peterson. During his press availability, Spielman explained that the Vikings had taken the weekend to gather additional information about Adrian Peterson and the indictment.

Despite that information, Trey Wingo declared that the Vikings reactivated Adrian Peterson even though they have the same information they have today that they had Friday. I might be missing something but I’m pretty certain Mr. Wingo couldn’t possibly know what information the Vikings had Friday, making it impossible for him to know if the information they have today is the same information they had Friday.

I’m more than a little skeptical about Wingo’s statement considering the fact that each NFL team has a sizable security staff. The joke within the NFL is that they have more contacts than the CIA. I’m unwilling to dispute that.

As bad as Wingo’s statement was, Jeff Saturday’s statements were infinitely worse. He said that the Vikings shouldn’t have reactivated Peterson because it was clear to him that Peterson needed to learn how to be a better man, a better husband and a better parent to his son.

It’s unacceptable for Mr. Saturday to not know what Adrian Peterson did long before the indictment was voted on. Had Mr. Saturday read Adrian Peterson’s statement, he wouldn’t have made such an assinine statement:

My attorney has asked me not to discuss the facts of my pending case. I hope you can respect that request and help me honor it. I very much want the public to hear from me but I understand that it is not appropriate to talk about the facts in detail at this time. Nevertheless, I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child.

I never wanted to be a distraction to the Vikings organization, the Minnesota community or to my teammates. I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.

I voluntarily appeared before the grand jury several weeks ago to answer any and all questions they had. Before my grand jury appearance, I was interviewed by two different police agencies without an attorney. In each of these interviews, I have said the same thing, and that is that I never ever intended to harm my son. I will say the same thing once I have my day in court.

I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen. I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child. I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate.

I have learned a lot and have had to reevaluate how I discipline my son going forward. But, deep in my heart, I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man. I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I ever make.

I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that’s what I tried to do that day.

I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue and what they think about my conduct. Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person.

The panelists did their best to paint Adrian Peterson as just another Ray Rice. I take offense with that comparison. When video surfaced showing Ray Rice dragging his then-fiancee out of the elevator, he ran immediately to a diversion program in an attempt to avoid prison time.

That isn’t what a repentent man sounds like.

When Rice held his first press conference at the Ravens’ headquarters, he read off of cue cards. He did what his attorneys told him to do. People watching that theater knew that he didn’t mean a thing he said that afternoon.

Compare that with what Adrian Peterson did. Long before the spotlight shined on him, he sought help to correct behavior that he isn’t defending. He’s admitted, on his first attempt, that he hurt his son. He’s told us that he’s learned from his bad behavior and that he hopes to be a better man and better father going forward.

That’s what a man who’s repentent sounds like.

It’s time for Mssrs. Wingo and Saturday to take a deep breath and collect their thoughts, then think things through. They didn’t look good this afternoon.

I’m not defending Adrian Peterson’s actions. As I just said, Adrian Peterson isn’t defending his actions. I’m perfectly willing to let the legal process play out to determine criminal guilt. That’s fine for the legal process.

As for whether Adrian Peterson should sit for another 3-7 games, I’d just ask a simple question. Would suspending Adrian help him learn the lessons these blowhards think he should learn that they think he hasn’t learned? Finally, I’d ask Mssrs. Wingo and Saturday whether they thought a) Ray Rice showed even a tiny bit of repentence and b) Adrian Peterson showed true repentence.

The difference, in my opinion, is night and day.

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