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Leitz to resign as MNsure chief executive

MNsure’s chief executive is resigning to take another job, the health insurance exchange confirmed Monday, paving the way for a third leadership shake-up at the beleaguered agency in less than two years.

Scott Leitz was set to announce his departure to the exchange’s board of directors in a special meeting Monday afternoon, with plans of taking a job at a health care policy think tank. MNsure spokeswoman Jenni Bowring-McDonough confirmed the coming resignation after The Associated Press broke the news.

The board will meet in a closed session to accept his resignation and name an interim replacement, McDonough said. Leitz and board Chairman Brian Beutner were expected to answer questions after that 1 p.m. meeting.

Leitz did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

A longtime presence in Minnesota health care policy with stints overseeing the state’s Medicaid program and serving as its health economist, Leitz took over at MNsure in December 2013 on an interim basis after the exchange’s first chief executive resigned in a swirl of technological nightmares and a controversy over a tropical vacation. He was named permanent CEO last April.

Leitz has been a steadying hand, largely succeeding in his promise to stabilize the website and cut down call wait times. But some technical problems persisted into year two and enrollment continually fell short of projections, triggering rounds of budget cuts.

Nearly 220,000 Minnesota residents had signed up for health care in the second round of open enrollment as of mid-April. More than 70 percent of those enrollees were placed in public programs such as MinnesotaCare or Medical Assistance.

Still, even Republicans credited Leitz for his leadership at their least favorite agency, likening it to boarding the Titanic before it sank.

Republicans who control the House are charting drastic changes to MNsure this legislative session, including dismantling the exchange altogether and moving Minnesota to the federal marketplace by 2017. Senate Democrats are advancing a more modest plan to retool MNsure’s governance that would make the quasi-private entity a full-blown state agency, abolishing its board and giving the governor power to appoint its commissioner.

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