Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Rep Matt Grossell
District 2A in the Minnesota House 

House Democrats: Ignore DHS Chaos, hold hearings on legalized suicide


September 19, 2019

The problems at Minnesota’s largest state agency and one of the largest share of the state budget, the Department of Human Services (DHS), has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. From the Childcare Fraud during session, to a mass exodus of leadership over the summer, the problems at DHS have only grown.

I joined my colleagues in sending multiple letters to Speaker Hortman, asking she call hearings so the legislature can perform its oversight function, frankly it was time we do our job and root out the mess. Unfortunately, we have been ignored and the following has happened since we sent our initial letter when Commissioner Lourey resigned on July 15th:

• On July 22, the Star Tribune reported that Faye Bernstein, a lead contract specialist at DHS, claimed she had been retaliated against for raising concerns about "serious non¬compliance issues" with DHS contracts.

• On July 29, the former medical director of DHS' Medicaid program circulated an open letter saying DHS leadership was "hostile and dismissive" towards the advice and concerns provided by himself and other medical professionals.

• Also on July 29, former head of the DHS Office of lnspector General Carolyn Ham was transferred to the DHS Office of General Counsel, returning to work despite being under investigation for her role in failing to prevent pervasive fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

• On August 1, the Pioneer Press first reported on $25.3 million in overpayments to two tribal governments for Medicaid substance abuse treatments.

• On August 16, the Star Tribune reported that Mohamed Alfash, who was the equity coordinator in the DHS Office of Inspector General, was fired as a result of retaliation for concerns he raised within DHS.

• On August 26, Deputy Commissioner Claire Wilson announced her intent to resign, just weeks after rescinding her previous resignation prior to the departure of former DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey.

• Also on August 26, the Pioneer Press reported that DHS will be required to reimburse the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approximately $48 million for improper payments to institutions for mental diseases.

• On August 30, Marie Zimmerman, the assistant commissioner for health care overseeing Minnesota’s Medicaid program, announced she was resigning and leaving the department in early September.

DHS represents the second-largest portion of our state budget. The chaos and turnover has real-world consequences for taxpayers, millions of Minnesotans served by DHS, and legislators as we look ahead to the 2020 session

Although we still haven't been able to hold hearings on the mismanagement at DHS, the House Democrats found time to hold hearings on a bill to legalize assisted suicide in Minnesota. They held this hearing day after World Suicide Prevention Day and during Suicide Prevention Month.

It was truly sad to see such a disregard for life on display at this hearing. We simply cannot allow this to gain a foothold in our great state.

- Rep. Matt Grossell represents District 02A in the Minnesota House, which includes Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, and Lake of the Woods counties.


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