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Dayton is mum on whether he ordered Todd-Malmlov’s resignation

Gov. Mark Dayton repeatedly declined to comment on Thursday about whether he asked former MNsure head April Todd-Malmlov to step down earlier this week.

Todd-Malmlov, during her resignation at a closed board meeting on Tuesday, said she stepped down “to protect the welfare and privacy of [her] family,” according to an email she sent to MNsure staff that evening. Scott Leitz, a senior Department of Human Services official, replaced Todd-Malmlov as the head of the struggling health insurance exchange in a new CEO position.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” Dayton said in response to a reporter’s question about whether he ordered Todd-Malmlov’s departure. “I’ve been closely involved for the last few months, and I’ve said publicly my extreme displeasure with the way MNsure was going.”

Dayton, echoing Leitz’s comments to reporters on Wednesday, apologized to Minnesotans for the exchange’s poor performance and technical glitches.

“I apologize to those Minnesotans who have been seriously inconvenienced or distraught by the failure MNsure,” the governor said at a press conference on Thursday. “It’s unacceptable.”

Dayton said he has been closely involved with MNsure for the last seven months and had daily conference calls with staff as the exchange opened on Oct. 1. Seemingly responding to Republican criticisms from last week that he take responsibility for the exchange’s failings, Dayton said “the buck stops here” when it comes to problems with MNsure.

But Dayton noted that he has “indirect influence” on MNsure, which is governed by an independent seven-member board. “That’s just the way it was set up, so that’s the way I operate in that legal parameter.”

The governor spared no words on Todd-Malmlov, but spoke highly of Leitz’s work running Minnesota’s Medicaid program. He said Leitz came highly recommended from Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and others. Leitz is one of Jesson’s most trusted deputies.

“MNsure’s in this very, very challenging time, and challenging times call for your best people,” Jesson, who is also a MNsure governing board member, said after a meeting on Wednesday. “I certainly didn’t want to lose Scott Leitz from DHS, even for a month, but challenging times call for sending your best people, and I can’t think of anyone better to help in a crisis than Scott Leitz.”

Jesson said Dayton didn’t decide that Leitz would fill in for Todd-Malmlov while a national search is under way to find her permanent successor.

“The governor was very happy that Scott agreed to step up and do this, but it was a board decision,” she said.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Jim Million on 12/19/2013 - 04:41 pm.

    Dayton Sure or UNsure regarding MNsure?

    Gov. Dayton has unfortunately again been caught in the headlights of an oncoming issue. Perhaps he should spend more time riding in the front seat than idly standing in the path of speeding traffic, where the buck does stop.

  2. Submitted by Rosalind Kohls on 12/19/2013 - 04:54 pm.

    Democrats are really scared

    Government control of health care is the Holy Grail for Democrats. They are terrified that the public will realize big government isn’t always competent. Gov. Dayton wants to make MnSure’s problems seem local, not federal, so of course he wants to make a local person into a scapegoat.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 12/19/2013 - 05:09 pm.

      Is that the latest Fox talking point?

      I hate to break this to you, but the practice of requiring some highly visible unfortunate to fall on their sword is a long-established practice by politicians both national and local and all across the political spectrum. I don’t necessarily care for the practice, but generalizing from that to “Democrats are terrified” doesn’t exactly qualify for a direct “Because A, then B” logical connection.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/20/2013 - 09:27 am.

      Just what you wanted

      If Ms. Todd-Mamlov hadn’t stepped down, you could continue your outrage about the government taking over your medical care. That would be further proof of those evil liberals taking care of their own. Now that her resignation has been accepted with alacrity, you can huff about her being a “scapegoat,” part of the Governor’s complicity in a plot to make the federal government look good at the expense of the state he runs.

      It’s a win-win situation for you, isn’t it?

  3. Submitted by jason myron on 12/19/2013 - 05:58 pm.

    Quite the theory you have there, Rosalind…

    You’ve had exactly one month of bad press for Obama and years worth for Republicans. You also left out the inconvenient fact that for all of the issues Obama has had to deal with, the Republicans have received zero bump in any poll.

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