MNSure director criticized for taking two-week tropical vacation amid enrollment problems

Categories: Health Care
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April Todd-Malmlov
:::: UPDATE :::: MNsure director Todd-Malmlov reportedly resigning amid vacation controversy

MNsure executive director April Todd-Malmlov is taking heat today for a two-week tropical vacation she took in late November as the state health care exchange website struggled with a number of problems.

RELATED: MNsure irons out many launch kinks, logs 5,000 accounts in first week

MNsure staff say they were prepared for Todd-Malmlov's long-planned vacation and had no trouble covering for her while she was out of the country, but conservatives argue it was irresponsible for MNsure's top official to take a vacation just weeks before some Minnesotans stand to lose their health coverage unless they can successfully navigate the exchange's balky website.

The story was broken by Watchdog.org in a post entitled, "Life's a beach: MN health exchange defends director's tropical vacation." Here's an out-of-office email reply Watchdog's Tom Steward included in his article:

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Watchdog, citing MNsure staff, reports that Todd-Malmlov was out of the office for eight business days before the two-day Thanksgiving Day holiday for state employees, with part of her vacation spent in Costa Rica. Her absence came while some consumers continued to struggle to purchase health care through the MNsure exchange.

A Star Tribune report details some of the exchange's ongoing problems:
The worst may be yet to come. Officials expect a rush of traffic in the run-up to the Dec. 23 deadline. Those who fail to sign up by then won't face penalties until March 31. At that point, if they remain uninsured, consumers will have to pay a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of taxable household income, whichever is greater.

The closer the enrollment deadline looms, the more people scramble to enroll, and the more MNsure scrambles to deal with the increased traffic.

Its website continues to bog down at peak times, and some people have been kicked off the site, mid-enrollment.

On Wednesday, the estimated wait time was 60 minutes to get through to the center.
But MNsure spokesperson says Todd-Malmlov's absence wasn't a big deal, especially since she was available on her phone and via email while away.

"Our leadership here works very, very closely with April, and the rest of the MNsure staff are deeply trusted and have the full faith and trust of our executive director and were at the helm in partnership with April even when she was out of the office," Jenni Bowring-McDonough, media relations coordinator for MNsure, told Watchdog. "It certainly was not a case of any gap in forward motion or any gap in work that needed to be completed and attended to because our commitment every day is to making the improvements that we need to make so that people can have the coverage they need starting January 1."

The Minnesota Jobs Coalition isn't convinced, however. This morning, the conservative group distributed a press release blasting Governor Dayton and MNsure for being asleep at the wheel while the ship is sailing through rough waters.

"It's no surprise Governor Dayton announced yesterday that the MNsure problems are keeping him up at night, and every Minnesotan should be concerned about the disastrous roll-out of Obamacare in Minnesota," Ben Golnik, chairman of the Jobs Coalition, says in the release. "It is very concerning that MNsure's top official left her post for two weeks, with new issues arising almost daily. It is high time for Governor Dayton to exercise leadership and fix MNsure in Minnesota."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.



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80 comments
TheConservativeJerk
TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

What would we say if this was a private insurance market and the CEO did this?  Expect more people!  Remember when the BP CEO went to a boat race while oil was leaking from deep sea horizon?   People demanded his job. 

Joe Finnegan
Joe Finnegan

God Stuttering John people like you are so anti-paste it makes me sick.

Matthew Widing
Matthew Widing

Her job has barely started and not even close to finishing.

Woody McBride
Woody McBride

Has anyone given any shit to the insurance companies at the other end? Funny no word from them

Justin Guenther
Justin Guenther

Sounds like the IDEAL time to take a vacation. Leave her alone, the world is not ending.

Tony Zahler
Tony Zahler

Stupid story, leave the woman alone.

Joe Petrie
Joe Petrie

If she came back this week she got punished like the rest of us.

Minneapolis Pizza Club
Minneapolis Pizza Club

Who's business is this? Really? Only in America are people criticized for taking time off work, relieving stress, etc. Smart woman to take some time off to relax before having to come back to deal with all of this, and likely - this was planned well in advance so I'm sure proper arrangements can be made in her absence. As if one woman is the cause of the MNSure issues or expected to solve them independently.

Bonnie Creason
Bonnie Creason

This is a non issue and I can't believe it's making the news!

Lisa Braun Dubbels
Lisa Braun Dubbels

Probably because she loses vacation time at the end of the year if she doesn't take it. We don't know the circumstances and frankly, it doesn't matter.

Kelly Garner
Kelly Garner

Bottom line-was anyone denied access because of her? Could she have personally fixed it? Probably not. And a vacation of this calibre takes a hell of a lot of time to plan and coordinate. Someone above her also probably okay'd it. I doubt she left her staff clueless, and I hope she enjoyed that vacation-though I'm betting she was still 'connected'.

Jeffrey Milkey
Jeffrey Milkey

When the $hit hits the fan its all hands on deck...you don't go on vacation....if you ever owned a company you would know this....The government worker mentality and union mentality is a mentality of entitlement. Out in the real world well....I am probably wasting my words if you don't get it...

Bernard Welage
Bernard Welage

i think she was stressed out thats why she took the vac...lol

Becky Appel-McCarty
Becky Appel-McCarty

This is what kills me. We the people, who give people jobs and pay taxes. We don't get overtime or paid vacations. 40 hour work week would feel like a vacation. Something this important, vacation should have been cancelled. 2 words she should learn Travel Insurance.

Sebastian Galdames
Sebastian Galdames

This may have been a case of use it or loose it...however exceptions can be made and you shouldn't leave when you are most needed.

Stephanie Norton
Stephanie Norton

there is never a good time for a vacation. i'm sure she had adequate vacation planned. we need to respect time off in the U.S. more...I'm sure she needed it!

stephansonprop
stephansonprop

It's  just another un-needed goverment made up job and she proved it. Lets face the facts, the program would be screwed up whether she was there or not because she has no idea what she is doing...just friends in high places.

Kirk Burback
Kirk Burback

It’s Government! Profit and proficiency is never an issue when it comes to personal desires of those employed by government.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman

city pages your becoming way tooo whiny

Julie Kapitan
Julie Kapitan

Hey you! The one who wrote this article! You are a dumb ass!

Karel Schaap
Karel Schaap

She should have taken the time off and no one should fault her for that. She no doubt appointed someone in charge and made herself available to that person. You can't cancel preplanned vacations without losing all the money you invested in flights and accommodations.

Tweak Reneker
Tweak Reneker

It's my EARNED time off, suck it, that's what I'd tell em

Matt Connell
Matt Connell

I'm sure the enrollment problems had nothing to do with her in the first place.

Dee Austin
Dee Austin

Oh how I wish people in power positions would stop making foolish decisions.

Leah J. Romuld
Leah J. Romuld

Seriously? who cares! Worry about something better than someone's vacay. The world won't end.

Tiffany Sorenson
Tiffany Sorenson

what a stupid thing to say, why would it be on anyone's dime but her own?

Brie MacDougall
Brie MacDougall

um, no. If your business falls apart because one person is gone, your business is not properly structured.

Tiffany Sorenson
Tiffany Sorenson

uhm? I don't know where you work, but you should probably find a new job if taking vacation time you are entitled to will get ya fired...........

Cassie Korthauer
Cassie Korthauer

I am guessing she knew when this was going to be launched, correct? Why would she plan a trip around that time? Always assume any major changes or new programs being launched are going to have bugs that are going to need to be fixed. Seems like pretty poor planning on her part.

Valerie Bolton Solovjovs
Valerie Bolton Solovjovs

She is a very dedicated and hard worker. I am sure this vacation was planned some time ago and Darcy You are right it is none of our business.

Sue Straub
Sue Straub

I doubt she planned on problems with the roll out when she scheduled her vacation. And most travel is non-refundable. Why is this even news worthy?

Mike McLean
Mike McLean

When you have a major software implementation, it's "All Hands On Deck".

Gail Hernandez
Gail Hernandez

Yup, she should not have taken vacation amid roll-out problems.

Luis Rojas
Luis Rojas

Insurance companies SHOULD have the option to knock patients off there plans based on pre-existing conditions!? IMMI RIGHT? WHY SHOULD THEY? CUZ 'MERICA THATS WHY!!!

Stephanie Dillard
Stephanie Dillard

A good leader makes sure that the plan put in place works before resting.

Shayne O'Neil
Shayne O'Neil

Seems she's just following dear leaders lead. Let's just hope her vacation is on HER dime and not the taxpayers.

Alan Cloud
Alan Cloud

I doubt it, Jeff. If you work for a crappy employer, perhaps. But where I work vacation selection for 2013 took place in November 2012. They were prepared for her time off, and her presence there would't have made a whole lot of difference.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Perhaps gov roll out of new insurance plan websites had been planned four years prior.

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