The new CEO of Minnesota's health insurance marketplace said Wednesday that MNsure will continue to make improvements as the potential signup deadline looms.
Roughly 24 hours after April Todd-Malmlov stepped down as executive director on Tuesday, the new interim CEO instated by the MNsure Board of Directors appointed, Scott Leitz, said a better future is on the way.
"We are committed to improving and we will improve," Leitz said Wednesday.
Leitz, an assistant state human services commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Health, will serve as acting CEO while a national search for a permanent leader will commence.
On Wednesday, Leitz spoke about transparency and pledged that the public will be informed of problems with MNsure as the leaders of the state's health insurance exchange learn about them.
Currently, however, many customers are continuing to experience problems that range from long wait times to coding errors. In many ways, that made Leitz's pledge seem more like damage control as the deadline to sign up continues to creep closer.
"There are no outlets besides online or on the phone, and neither are answering the questions I have," Tara, who asked Fox 9 News not to share her last name, said. "I don't know what to do."
She is one of many Minnesotans still trying to get answers from MNsure. Recently, she spent 5 hours straight just trying to get through to the call center.
"Extremely frustrating," she said. "What more can I do? I had no other outlet, no other way to get the information I was looking for."
The problems of long wait times at the call center and glitches with the website date back to September.
"To those Minnesotans who have had problems, we apologize for that," Leitz said. "We are committed 100 percent and fully committed to making this process a better one for people."
Currently, the plan to tackle the problems is to bring in additional staff to the call center. Meanwhile, IBM -- one of MNsure's vendors -- will bring in an additional 80 employees to help fix the problems plaguing the website.
"There is no doubt this process will improve moving forward," Leitz assured. "It'll be a much better process than it is now and much easier for people to enroll."
MNsure board chairman Brian Beutner said the board might delay the enrollment deadline -- originally slated for Dec. 23 -- for those who want coverage starting Jan. 1. Beutner said anyone who selected and paid for a plan will be covered by Jan. 1 but didn't say there would be guaranteed coverage for potential late enrollees.
Yet, for some, the clock -- and patience -- is running out.
"I feel like it's too late, what they are telling us," Tara said. "I don't believe it. I don't believe anything they are saying because what they were saying earlier isn't the truth."
So far, an estimated 40,000 Minnesotans have signed up for MNsure. There are just 5 days left to get on board, provided the board does not extend the deadline in the future.
Spokeswoman Jenni Bowring-McDonoug said Wednesday that Todd-Malmlov didn't receive a severance package from the state when she resigned. She was earning $136,680 before stepping down.
"This was her decision," Beutner told Fox 9 News. "I did not ask for her resignation and I was disappointed to receive it."
No specific reason was given for Todd-Malmlov's departure, but she had recently been criticized over a vacation she took during what state leaders described as the busiest time of year for the troubled healthcare exchange.
In a release, the MNsure board explained that it took action "to improve service for Minnesotans using the state's health insurance exchange."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.