1.) The effectiveness of insurance coverage offered through MNsure remains to be seen, but the state health insurance exchange website has begun the new year with a rather inauspicious start. Applications faltered at MNsure.org due to technological glitches, according to the Star Tribune, and the website will be down for repairs until at least Monday morning. MNsure spokesman John Schadl said the problems were owing to “communications issues between various components of the application.” Also likely to draw criticism were renewed complaints over the wait time to reach the MNsure call center, which Schadl said was at an average of just over an hour on Thursday. The continued technical difficulties come at a critical point for the exchange: Though the deadline for January coverage passed on midnight, Dec. 31, consumers were given until Jan. 10 to arrange a payment plan. In a pre-launch meeting earlier this week, interim MNsure CEO Scott Leitz had said the exchange was making progress on both website functionality and call center responsiveness.
2.) Never one to sit on the sidelines during a debate over LGBT rights, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, used a statement issued Thursday afternoon to wade into the controversy involving outspoken former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. At issue were a series of allegations Kluwe aimed at the organization’s management, including former head coach Leslie Frazier and special teams coach Mike Priefer. Kluwe, who became a vocal supporter of the gay marriage cause in Minnesota, said the Vikings’ decision to release him stemmed, at least in part, from angst over Kluwe’s advocacy role; in Priefer’s case, Kluwe claimed the specialist coach had repeatedly made offensive remarks about gay people. Dibble said the accusations are troubling, especially considering the state’s decision to back the Vikings’ new stadium with hundreds of millions of dollars for the new public/private stadium project. “As a business partner of the state of Minnesota, we have strong expectations that the team uphold the values of tolerance and equality that we all share,” Dibble said. “I am encouraged to some degree by the team’s statement in response, but the charges warrant a thorough investigation.”
3.) Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, seems to have a nose for noncontroversial consumer-interest ideas, and announced his latest such proposal on Thursday. Atkins plans to introduce a law that would require smartphones to have a remote “kill switch” option, which would leave the phone useless in the event of its being lost or stolen. Atkins said the impetus for the law is, in part, the recent episode that saw former DFL mayoral candidate Mark Andrew robbed and beaten for his iPhone. “Smartphone theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in Minnesota and across the country, and these crimes are becoming increasingly violent,” Atkins said. If passed, Minnesota’s would be the first “kill switch” law in the country, though similar legislation is also being considered in New York and California.
COMINGS & GOINGS