The non-partisan Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released a special review last week detailing more than $29 million in improper payments made by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) over a five-year period to two tribes for addiction treatment services. The audit found that DHS repeatedly signaled approval for a billing practice that effectively caused double-billing to the federal government — once for an in-person visit, and multiple additional reimbursements when patients self-administer medication at home.

The special review blamed "troubling dysfunction" at DHS, noting the agency "did not have legal authority to make the payments; it did not document why, when, and who decided it was appropriate to make the payments; no one at DHS takes responsibility for the decision; and no one at DHS can provide a rationale for the payments. The overpayments continued over several years and did not stop until an outside inquiry brought them to light."

As the Republican Lead on the House HHS Finance Division, Minnesota taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for the dysfunction at DHS. DHS should take responsibility for their mistake, and find the $29 million within their own $18 billion budget to make amends for their mismanagement of federal funds.

The numerous levels of management and middle-management at DHS that failed to identify and stop this improper practice makes clear that reorganization, consolidation and accountability measures are desperately needed, not just in the division in question in this special review, but agency-wide." The $29 million represents just .0016% of the $18 billion biennial DHS budget.