Minnesotans are proud people. We’re proud to boast of our 11,842 lakes and the fact that we can survive subzero temperatures for months straight. But one thing Minnesotans can’t be proud of is our state’s questionable handling of Medicaid dollars.
The House Oversight Committee recently reported, “Minnesota provides a stunning example of how states are failing to properly ensure the appropriate use of taxpayer dollars spent on Medicaid managed care.”
So how did Minnesota end up with this disappointing designation? The Star Tribune recounted the events that led to this in a June 17 article titled, “On trial: Minnesota Medicaid”:
“It began with a $30 million ‘voluntary contribution’ to Minnesota taxpayers from one of the state’s nonprofit Medicaid contractors, an unprecedented act of corporate generosity that raised eyebrows from St. Paul to Washington.
“Skepticism about the payment focused first on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, whose administration sought to keep the money in state coffers rather than share it with the federal government, which foots half the bill for Medicaid.
“Then congressional investigators pounced, setting off on a trail of suspected overpayments to state Medicaid contractors that could potentially reach hundreds of millions of dollars and going back a decade to the administration of Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.”
I got involved in this issue in February, after whistleblowers contacted my office to report details in the Minnesota Medicaid program that just didn’t add up. I was appalled to learn what could be going on in my home state. So I joined with State Senators Sean Nienow (District 17) and Michelle Benson (District 49) for a press conference on these allegations, and I have been involved publically in the issue ever since.
In April, I testified at an Oversight hearing titled, “Is Government Adequately Protecting Taxpayers from Medicaid Fraud?” And earlier this month, I spoke at another Oversight hearing on the topic titled, “Assessing Medicare and Medicaid Program Integrity.”
I commend my colleagues on House Oversight for taking up this issue, despite what further investigations may show is going on in Minnesota.
I came to Washington to protect taxpayer dollars, and protecting taxpayer dollars is what this issue is about.
At the recent Oversight hearing, I announced my call for CMS (the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) to conduct an immediate, independent, third-party audit of Minnesota’s Medicaid records. I believe this is the necessary path forward in order to find out what is actually going on in Minnesota.
Furthermore, this week I am introducing legislation that will hold CMS accountable to ensure audits are properly conducted of ALL states’ Medicaid programs and the right information is being audited. Proper audits are common sense. And I anticipate my bill will receive strong bipartisan support.
We will get to the bottom of what’s been going on in Minnesota’s Medicaid program. And we will ensure that taxpayer dollars are held to a high accounting standard. Because taxpayers are counting on us.