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Published April 30, 2013, 07:45 AM

Dayton names directors of health insurance site

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday appointed six people with a wide range of health care experience to serve on the board of directors for the Minnesota's health care exchange, the online marketplace where the uninsured and other residents will be able to shop for coverage under the federal health care overhaul.

By: Associated Press, INFORUM

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday appointed six people with a wide range of health care experience to serve on the board of directors for the Minnesota's health care exchange, the online marketplace where the uninsured and other residents will be able to shop for coverage under the federal health care overhaul.

Dayton's choices for the board of MNsure include a retired physician from Willmar, a former union executive, the founder of a small healthcare provider, a consultant and former UnitedHealth group executive, a General Mills vice president and the director of human services for the Fond du Lac Reservation. The seventh board slot goes automatically to Lucinda Jesson, Dayton's commissioner of human services.

State officials think about 300,000 uninsured Minnesotans will buy their insurance through the site, with financial help from the federal government. Another million Minnesotans are expected to transfer to the exchange either through existing state medical assistance programs or through their employer. The site, which will allow users to compare health plans in a way that's been compared to airline ticket clearinghouse sites like Travelocity, is supposed to open for business Oct. 1.

The exchanges will be the principle way that most Americans feel the effects of the federal Affordable Care Act that President Obama shepherded through Congress in 2010. Minnesota is among a small group of states that opted to form their own exchanges rather than leaving the job to the federal government, and Dayton said the stakes are high for his appointees.

"We were looking for geographical diversity and diversity of points of view," Dayton said. All of the appointees boast "extensive experience in health care in various respects, and they'll bring that experience as well as their expertise to the board. They know this is a significant commitment of time and a challenging situation."

Dayton's appointees are:

— Thompson Aderinkomi, founder and CEO of Retrace Health, a Minneapolis primary care service provider.

— Pete Benner, a former executive director of the Minnesota state employee union AFSCME Council 6 and now a health care and labor relations consultant.

— Brian Beutner, a former UnitedHealth Group executive and former CEO of a healthcare software company.

— Kathryn Duevel, a retired OBGYN physician and one-time official at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.

— Tom Forsythe, vice president of global communications at General Mills.

— Phil Norrgard, director of human services at Fond du Lack Reservation.

Board members will earn $30,000 a year for their first two years of service, and only a $55 daily expense reimbursement after that. The only requirement was that they have no current financial ties to health insurance companies or hospitals.

Dayton said 112 people applied for board positions. Beutner said for him, it was a chance to work in a more direct way on issues of health care affordability and access that have been a major part of his career.

"We're going to be getting input from everybody, real people too," Beutner said. "Our charge is to make this work as well as possible for as many people as we can."

Minnesota lawmakers don't get to vote on the board appointments, and state Sen. Michelle Benson said she wished Dayton had consulted Republican critics of the exchange, such as her, while choosing the board members. Still, she applauded the regional and experiential background of the governor's choices.

"I think he's tried to find a good balance," said Benson, of Ham Lake. She said she would have liked to see a board member with more experience dealing with health insurance issues facing small businesses.

The board is likely to hold its first meeting sometime in May.

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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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