Dayton names 2 to MNsure board

Gov. Mark Dayton speaks to the press.
File photo of Gov. Mark Dayton speaking to the press at the capitol on June 7, 2016.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News File

Gov. Mark Dayton has named two replacements on the board of MNsure, the state's health insurance exchange.

Retiring DFL state Sen. Kathy Sheran will replace Tom Forsythe as the member with expertise in health policy. Administration policy advisor Lauren Gilchrist will replace Kathryn Duevel as the member with "expertise in public health and disparities." Their terms will expire on May 5, 2020.

Sheran, 69, is a retired Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Before her election to the state Senate she worked for over 35 years as both a clinician and an associate professor at Minnesota State University Mankato. Sheran chaired the state Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee.

Gilchrist, 40, has a long history advising elected officials on health policy. She joined the administration in 2011 as assistant commissioner for health policy and reform in the Minnesota Department of Human Services in 2011.

Before that she was a health policy advisor to U.S. Sen. Al Franken and to the late Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, a long-time champion of increased access to health care.

Gilchrist holds a master's degree from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota and is an adjunct professor there as well.

Sheran and Gilchrist will join the board of an agency that has rarely enjoyed anything but turbulence. Massive technical problems plagued MNsure's initial roll out in 2013, and it has been a punching bag for Republican critics ever since.

The job of running MNsure may have gotten tougher last week. Thursday revealed massive proposed premium increases being sought by the dwindling number of insurers selling health plans on the exchange.

Although MNsure has no control over premium rates, it does depend on people enrolling in health plans through the exchange for some of its funding.

The rate hikes may encourage more people to buy coverage on MNsure, because that's the only way to qualify for federal insurance subsidies. But if the price increases discourage enrollment the board may be contending with budget problems.

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