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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, December 6, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On Monday, House Democrats held their first hearing looking into the problems that have been revealed at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) this summer and fall. The hearing came 144 days after Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson abruptly resigned without explanation, setting off a series of events that have revealed an agency in crisis.

Here’s a recap of what we’ve learned about DHS in the last six months:

  • The Legislative Auditor reported on “pervasive fraud” in the childcare system. The DHS inspector general was placed on investigate leave for her role in this – and it still getting paid.
  • Employees have been fired, mistreated, or retaliated against for raising concerns about agency practices.
  • DHS owes the federal government $30 million due to overpayments to two tribal governments.
  • DHS overpaid chemical dependency providers, which costs taxpayers $70 million.
  • DHS paid out $3 million for people who were already dead.
  • DHS broke the law more than 200 times on contracts totaling more than $52 million.
  • DHS is now being scrutinized for not accommodating employees with disabilities.

At the hearing, DHS commissioner Harpstead indicated that no one has been disciplined for the tens of millions in overpayments to tribes, and was reluctant to endorse calls for a full-scale audit of all DHS spending.

A recent article from Alpha News suggests an interesting connection that links Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion with the problems at DHS. In the article, the author notes that when Obamacare became law, the federal government needed ways to incentivize states to expand Medicaid. Because of this, the feds told states that they would cover 100 percent of the cost of new Medicaid enrollees, for a time, and would cover 90 percent of the cost starting in 2020 and beyond.

The author surmises that states are not being as careful in determining Medicaid eligibility because the federal government is covering 90 percent of the costs for new enrollees.

Because of this lax in eligibility determination, fraud, waste, and abuse has become rampant, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and we may be seeing its effects here in Minnesota.

Whether or not this article accurately explains the problems at DHS is not yet 100% clear as more investigation is needed. Either way, it’s an interesting article and I would encourage all to read at the link above. After reading the article I think you will agree that Obamacare continues to wreak negative consequences for our states and healthcare system. It has to be repealed!

Staying in Touch

Please continue to reach out to me to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email at rep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Glenn

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