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Even with smaller grant, MNsure finances deemed adequate for 2014

A lower-than-expected federal grant won’t affect operations next year, an exchange official said on Wednesday.

A lower-than-expected federal grant won’t affect MNsure’s operations next year, an exchange official said on Wednesday.

MNsure applied for a $45 million grant to run the exchange through next year but only received $41 million.

An older grant will be able to backfill the missing amount, an official said after the exchange’s governing board reviewed its $76.3 million budget for 2014.

The board also unanimously approved a 1.5 percent premium withhold in order to build the exchange’s reserve for when it must be self-sustaining in 2015. It was the highest option they had available.

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Based on enrollment estimates, the withhold could bring in between $3.2 million to $4.6 million.

“It’s about building a contingency and where do we look at going into [2015],” Board Chairman Brian Beutner said.

The exchange has roughly $1.3 million in obligations to cover before it can start building its reserve. The more people enroll, the more money that flows into the exchange.

As of Nov. 2, roughly 11,000 people were in the process of enrolling, including about 1,800 people purchasing private plans, according to MNsure’s second round of enrollment information. That’s a significant jump from Oct. 16, when roughly 3,800 people were in the final stages of getting coverage, and only about 400 had gone after private plans.

Although at least one board member said he was concerned about enrollment efforts, Beutner and MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov said they were pleased with the progress.

“We are one month into a six-month process,” Beutner said after Wednesday’s meeting. “I’m pretty confident.”

If the exchange saw high enrollment levels, estimates indicate it could take in as much as $8.6 million next year.

Todd-Malmlov said she hopes the exchange will be able to begin transmitting consumer information next week to the health plans that would finalize enrollment. She said a federal change late last week had further delayed the transfer.

She noted that carriers need to be able to send information out to people before Jan. 1. “Really there is a significant amount of time,” she said.