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Minnesota Man Tells State Obamacare Exchange Its Glitches Killed His Wife

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An erstwhile Minnesota Obamacare customer told a state panel Tuesday that a flub with the state’s exchange over his late wife’s health insurance ultimately killed her.

“Absolutely,” Charlie Dunker told a state House committee, the Associated Press reports. “She’d be here today if it wasn’t for MNsure.”

Dunker’s wife, Gail Dunker, died of cancer earlier this year. The Dunkers canceled their private insurance plan after signing up at MNsure, the state-run Obamacare exchange, where they were told that they’d pay nothing in monthly premiums after subsidies. After learning that Gail was ill, however, the Dunkers were told that they didn’t have coverage after all.

“Because Gail didn’t fill out the form they wanted, they let her die,” Dunker told the panel. “Plain and simple.”

“The cancer she had was treatable. They told us that at the Mayo [Clinic],” Dunker said. “They said, ‘If she had been here when this first came up…this cancer is very treatable.'”

“She was in Mayo from November to Jan. 9, when she died,” Dunker said. “When MNsure was jerking our chain, that’s what happened. That’s why I’m here.”

Dunker said the couple was uninsured for months after his wife’s diagnosis, making it difficult to get appointments to treat her cancer, while they attempted to fix the problem with MNsure and regain coverage. However, judges ruled against Dunker in a hearing on the issue, deciding that the couple hadn’t been able to prove their lack of insurance was MNsure’s fault, according to the AP.

Dunker was one of several Minnesota residents that spoke at the hearing, but others had more positive experiences. Mary Einspahr, another MNsure customer, told the panel that the exchange “saved my life” after signing up for Medical Assistance through the website.

The Republican-controlled House Health and Human Services Finance Committee panel voted to abandon MNsure, the state-run exchange in favor of HealthCare.gov, only if the Supreme Court rules in June that the Obamacare subsidies — and therefore the employer mandate — applies only to state-run exchanges.

“As we see today, it is harming people in Minnesota, said Republican state Rep. Matt Dean.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has requested $500,000 from the state legislature for a task force on whether the state should attempt to keep fixing the exchange or instead join HealthCare.gov, as other states with technology problems — Oregon and Nevada — have done.

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