Minnesota health insurance board addresses conflicts

Published 10:28 am Thursday, August 8, 2013

ST. PAUL — The citizen board that’s directing Minnesota’s new, state-run health insurance exchange is working on a policy to root out their own possible conflicts of interest.

The board of directors of MNsure met Wednesday in St. Paul. That’s the new online marketplace that will help enact President Obama’s health care overhaul, and is likely to help extend health insurance to about 300,000 Minnesotans who don’t currently have it. The exchange is supposed to start operating on Oct. 1.

Several members of the seven-member board have ties to the health care industry. They’re working on a policy that requires them not to use their positions to profit personally or to assist others in profiting at the expense of MNsure.

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“If you think you have an interest, it’s your obligation to bring it up at that time,” said Mary Foarde, an attorney consulting with the board on its governance structure. “That’s the policy, that’s the intent.”

While board members will not be able to profit from their involvement with MNsure, it appears likely they’ll be able to get their own health insurance through it. Foarde told board member Thompson Aderinkomi, CEO of a health care business, that it would likely not be a conflict for him to insure through MNsure.

MNsure’s board is also recruiting health care industry volunteers to serve on a series of advisory panels. Board member Peter Benner suggested such advisers should be required to disclose potential conflicts, but that unlike board members themselves it shouldn’t bar them from serving.

“These are the people in the industry. We don’t want to try to gauge where the medical community is on these issues from a bunch of people who are retired from it,” Benner said.