- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014
MNsure says website, call center running well

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Officials with Minnesota’s health insurance exchange said its website and call center were functioning well Sunday as the deadline looms for open enrollment.

“I’m tickled pink. I have a big smile on my face. Things are going well,” MNsure spokeswoman Jenni Bowring-McDonough said.

Minnesotans have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to enroll for health insurance coverage or face federal tax penalties under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The call center wait time from the first ring and a series of prompts until a real person answered was under eight minutes when The Associated Press placed a test call just before 2 p.m. Sunday. That’s about the same wait that MNsure officials reported for most of last week as people who hadn’t signed up previously started rushing to beat the deadline.

MNsure hasn’t issued a tally yet of how many of the 400,000 previously uninsured Minnesotans have enrolled. The exchange didn’t plan to issue updated figures Sunday, Bowring-McDonough said. But as of Friday, more than 152,000 Minnesotans had either enrolled in private insurance plans or qualified for government-subsidized public plans.

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Heavy snowfall to hit northeast North Dakota

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - A combination of heavy snowfall and very strong winds is expected to create blizzard conditions in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.

The National Weather Service expects the snow to begin late Sunday and continue into Monday evening. The snowfall will become especially heavy late Monday morning and into the afternoon hours, with 1 to 2 inches per hour possible.

The heaviest snow is expected across eastern North Dakota, through the northern and central Red River Valley, and into northwest Minnesota. Meteorologist Tom Grafenauer says most areas can expect 10-20 inches of snow.

Thirty to 40 mph winds with gusts to over 50 mph combined with heavy snowfall will reduce visibilities to less than a quarter mile.

Grafenauer says the storm could be life-threatening to drivers who get stranded.

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US Sen. Warren campaigns for Franken in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts whipped up the crowds at a campaign event for Sen. Al Franken and helped Minnesota Democrats raise money for the upcoming campaign season at two events over the weekend.

Franken’s re-election campaign was making a pitch for volunteers at Macalester College in St. Paul on Saturday, and Warren is popular with the Democratic base. She stressed issues such as economic inequality, global warming and unions, Minnesota Public Radio reported (https://bit.ly/1jMxbUqhttps://bit.ly/1jMxbUq ).

“I’m not going to lean back; I’m not going to whimper about what the Republicans are up to; I’m not going to whine about what they’re doing in Washington. I’m going to fight back. And when I fight back, I want Al Franken beside me in this fight all the way,” Warren said.

Franken won his Senate seat in 2008 by just 312 votes following a long recount process. State Sen. Julianne Ortman, businessman Mike McFadden and several other GOP candidates are vying to take on Franken in November.

Warren also keynoted the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s annual Humphrey-Mondale Dinner on Saturday night to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the party, a merger of the state’s Democrats with the Farmer-Labor Party.

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25-year-old man dies after St. Paul house fire

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A 25-year-old man died hours after firefighters rescued him from an early morning fire Sunday that was blamed on an unattended candle.

Daniel Trabant died at Regions Hospital on Sunday afternoon, fire officials and hospital spokesman Vince Rivard said.

Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said the fire was caused by an unattended candle in a bedroom. He says the fire was reported about 5:45 a.m. Sunday, and the entire second story was engulfed when firefighters arrived.

Seven people were inside sleeping when the fire started. Zaccard said firefighters found Trabant unconscious and performed CPR. He was taken to Regions in critical condition. Another man was taken to the hospital in stable condition.

Six people lived in the house and one friend was visiting Saturday night to celebrate a housemate’s 21st birthday, Jake Foster, 22, one of the housemates, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Foster said he woke up to screams for everyone to get out.


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