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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Petersburg (R)

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

On January 28, Minnesota's non-partisan Office of the Legislative Auditor handed down more head-scratching news regarding MNsure – which is Minnesota's arm of Obamacare. It found that improper payments to ineligible MNsure public program enrollees have resulted in between $115 million - $271 million in wasted taxpayer dollars.

According to the report, many of those who received state benefits either were placed in the wrong public health insurance program, or didn't qualify for either the Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare programs.

This is troubling to say the least. Minnesota's taxpayers have already spent more than $300 million on MNsure, and it is still unable to prevent hundreds of millions of dollars from being spent on ineligible recipients.

Worth noting: in 2015, House Republicans passed legislation to improve public program eligibility verification, estimating savings of $300 million to Minnesota taxpayers over two years. However it was not signed into law.

In other news, Minnesota's Department of Commerce is warning motorists to be on the lookout for credit card skimmers at gas station pumps.

Credit card skimmers are small electronic devices that can be attached to credit card readers or hidden inside gas pumps to collect and transmit a customer’s credit and debit card data to criminals, who sell or use the information to commit identity theft.

While skimming incidents have to date been isolated in Minnesota, it's always a good idea to take a few extra precautions at the pump to better safeguard your personal information. Here are a few tips from the commerce department:

• Inspect the card reader and pump for any signs of forced entry, including broken security seals, tool marks, loose materials, scratches where someone may have tampered with the pump or anything else that is suspicious.

• Pay with cash or a card inside. Or select credit instead of debit on the pump. If you do use a debit card, never type in your PIN at the pump. Using your credit card will limit your liability to $50, while stolen debit card information can give the thief direct access to the actual money in your bank account.

• Check your bank accounts and credit card statements regularly and immediately report irregularities to your financial institution or credit/debit card company. There is a limited time period for you report fraud without any liability on your part.

If you notice any irregularities (especially someone who is not a station employee or an inspector who is opening up a pump), alert the station attendant or call the Minnesota Department of Commerce Weight & Measures Consumer Services Center at 800-657-3602. As always, please contact me if you have questions, comments, or concerns. Reach me by email at or call my office at 651-296-5368.