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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Poston (R)

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Capitol Newsletter from Rep. John Poston

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

On Tuesday, the non-partisan Legislative Auditor (OLA) released a special review of the $29 million in improper payments made by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to two tribal governments for addiction services.

News of the over-payments emerged this summer through media reports.

You can read the full special review here.

In its report, the OLA blamed "troubling dysfunction" at the agency for the improper payments, and concluded that "fundamental and deep reforms within DHS are needed." They also noted that DHS "did not have the 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 report revealed that the over-payments continued for several years and did not stop until an outside inquiry brought them to light.

I am extremely disappointed by the failure at numerous levels of management and middle-management that allowed this policy to go unnoticed for years.

To begin addressing the problem, the OLA recommended instituting a "comprehensive system of documented management reviews and approvals" for payments made with Medicaid funds.

Regardless of the solutions needed to address the structural problems at DHS, it’s clear to me that Minnesota taxpayers should NOT be on the hook to pay back the $29 million in over-payments to the federal government. This error was due to mismanagement and a lack of respect for taxpayers at DHS and the department should find the $29 million to pay back the federal government from within its $18 billion budget.

I continue to support a forensic audit of DHS, implementing strong internal controls to prevent future problems, and accountability for those that were responsible for this egregious error. It is clear that a serious culture change and accountability measures are needed at DHS.

Please be sure to contact me if you have any questions or concerns related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4293 or via email at

Have a great day,