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Todd-Malmlov name-dropped in Oregon health-exchange emails

MinnPost file photo by James Nord
Former MNsure executive director April Todd-Malmlov, right, resigned her position last December.

WASHINGTON — One day after MNsure executive director April Todd-Malmlov resigned her position last December, a consultant for the troubled Cover Oregon health insurance exchange emailed two top Oregon officials recommending Todd-Malmlov as someone “who may want to dig into some kind of temporary project ASAP.”

The email was obtained last week by the U.S. House Oversight Committee, which requested a log of correspondence between state and federal officials from a handful of health insurance exchanges, including MNsure, in March.

The committee is still waiting on documents from MNsure, an Oversight Committee official said, but Minnesota’s exchange has already popped up in at least once in other states’ internal exchange deliberations.

“I wanted to let you guys know that [Todd-Malmlov] is one of the brightest and most technically proficient of the exchange leaders that I have seen,” wrote Joel Ario of Manatt Health Solutions. Later, he wrote, “would not put her in charge but she does know her stuff.”

Two Oregon officials, then-director of the Oregon Health Authority, Bruce Goldberg and the governor’s chief of staff, Mike Bonetto, replied briefly to the email, but that seems to have been the end of it — the state never offered Todd-Malmlov a position on its exchange.

(In addition to replying to the Oversight Committee, Oregon released troves of emails to the press last week. Here’s The Oregonian’s read through them.)

Ario was the director of the office of health exchanges at Health and Human Services in 2010 and 2011, so he had a hand in initially getting more than a dozen state-based exchanges off the ground. In an interview, he said he worked with Todd-Malmlov while meeting with Minnesota officials on setting up MNsure.

Oversight Committee members largely ignored MNsure when the committee heard testimony on state exchanges last month, focusing the fiercest lines of questioning on the directors of the Maryland and Oregon exchanges. Cover Oregon has already announced it will close its state-based website in favor of the federal system (Goldberg resigned his position in March), and Maryland is scrambling to rebuild its exchange before the second open enrollment period begins this fall.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry

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