ST. PAUL, MN—Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, issued the following statement regarding yesterday's news that the Department of Human Services (DHS) plans to close a children's psychiatric hospital located in Willmar, MN. The proposal also includes modifications to a program that treats those with chemical dependency including a change in the total number of available beds.
"I have serious concerns about DHS closing the Willmar children's psychiatric facility, the changes being made to existing DHS programs, and the impact on services and livelihoods in Willmar and the surrounding area," Baker said. "These sudden changes have come as a shock to our community. I believe this is the wrong approach to closing the DHS budget gap, and am disappointed at the lack of advance notice given by Governor Dayton and the department.
"These sudden changes will not help DHS fix the structural problems their budget faces due to lawsuits and ever-rising costs. DHS still is not working to fully verify eligibility of MNsure enrollees, and has had serious problems in the past with improper payments for Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded public programs. Costs will continue to grow, and DHS will continue to face future deficits that will cost taxpayers even more unless they take serious actions to get their fiscal house in order.
"I will continue to gather additional information and work with DHS, state and local officials, and other stakeholders here in our community to determine the best path forward," Baker concluded.