There has been a steady drip of news regarding dysfunction and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Headline after headline has recounted all the problems, such as $160 million in program mismanagement as recently as this summer. This includes nearly $30 million in overpayments to tribes which the Legislative Auditor investigated, nearly $70 million in overpayments to chemical dependency providers, $3.7 million in payments to deceased Medicaid enrollees and more than $50 million in contracts and grants awarded without proper documentation. There also has been rampant child care fraud reported within a DHS program.
As all this has been uncovered, an endless stream of resignations, unresignations, re-resignations, firings, reassignments, investigations has taken place at DHS in recent months. The nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor concluded that fundamental and deep reforms within DHS are needed.
People ask me what the Legislature is going to do to cut out the fraud, waste and abuse at DHS and I agree taxpayers deserve answers. It is unfortunate and highly concerning that few clues have been provided. While the Senate Republican majority has conducted multiple hearings to examine DHS, the House Democrat majority has been mostly inactive. The mini-session the House conducted in early October would have been the perfect time to examine the DHS situation, but that opportunity was wasted.
Since the chance to discuss DHS at the mini-session was squandered and the House is not scheduled to convene again as a full body until Feb. 11, we have spent the last handful of months looking for other ways to take a closer look at DHS. Here is a quick rundown of just some of the letters and requests House Republicans have filed since mid-July:
This should not be a partisan issue; it’s something that impacts all Minnesotans. I’ll say once again that taxpayers deserve some long-overdue answers and let’s hope many are provided during the Dec. 2 hearing that is scheduled.
Until next time, stay tuned and your input always is welcome.