White Earth Applauds Legislature, Governor on Addressing Tribal MAT Billing Issue
July 2, 2021
White Earth, Minnesota – Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed the Health and Human Services Omnibus bill, HF33, into law. The bill appropriates approximately $18.8 billion dollars over the next biennium to fund the State of Minnesota’s Health and Human Services functions. Importantly, the bill included language that settles an on-going dispute between White Earth and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) regarding billing for medication-assisted treatment programs.
In 2019, DHS alleged that White Earth’s MOMS/MAT Program overbilled for services provided from 2017 to 2019 in excess of $14 million. White Earth maintained that it was not at fault for the billing error and that it was simply relying on guidance from DHS when submitting billing claims. White Earth worked with Governor Walz and the Minnesota Legislature to appropriate the funds necessary to cover DHS’s error. Simultaneously, White Earth also appealed DHS’s determination, asking an administrative law judge to find that DHS is at fault and should not be allowed to recover the funds from White Earth.
The action taken by the Legislature and the Governor resolves the matter and White Earth will not have to pay funds to DHS. “We are very happy with the action taken by Minnesota leaders to finally address this longstanding issue,” White Earth Reservation Business Committee Chairman Michael Fairbanks said. “It is satisfying to see the state take responsibility for their mistake. Now we can fully focus on providing high quality services to our people and we look forward to building our relationship with the State of Minnesota to accomplish our shared goals of healthier families and stronger communities.”
The White Earth Reservation Business Committee extends its thanks to Governor Walz, Lt. Governor Flanagan, legislative leaders, and DHS Commissioner Harpstead and all the staff for their hard work and dedication to making this settlement possible.