Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Olmsted County taxpayers are now being penalized for the continued problems involving the state’s troubled MNsure health care program.  

The Olmsted County Board Tuesday approved the hiring of five new workers to handle the large increase in Medical Assistance cases and the time that is needed to begin moving them into the MNsure computer system.

The board was told the county has experienced a 40-percent increase in Medical Assistance cases since the launch of the Affordable Care Act.  MNSure’s computer system was intended to save counties money by automating the case management process. But after three years of experience, those expectations have not been met.The county’s previous case management system was adequate but the state has required the data be transferred to MNsure and that’s when the problems began and have continued.

A new state requirement that takes effect in August will mean even more work for counties.

Olmsted County isn’t alone in dealing with the MNsure mess. The board was told eight of the state’s nine largest counties have been forced to add 250 positions to handle the increased workload and like Olmsted, most are planning even more hiring.

In Olmsted’s case, the new employees will cost local taxpayers more than $50,000 this year and $160,000 next year, after the county is reimbursed from the federal and state governments for half of the new salaries.

Commissioner Ken Brown called the news “an appalling waste of public resources. “  He went on to say “the state should be absolutely ashamed” and the public “should be outraged and should call their state legislators every day” until the problem is dealt with.  

Check here for the video of the board meeting  (go to the :52 minute mark;  Brown's comments are at the 1:10 mark).