Two Minnesota Republicans sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz Tuesday requesting an “independent audit of DHS spending” following revelations that the department owes the federal government up to $73 million.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) recently said it must repay $48 million to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That sum was issued to ineligible treatment centers, and is in addition to the $25 million two tribal nations improperly received for substance abuse programs.
“Taken together, these two instances alone will cost Minnesota taxpayers $73 million. The dysfunction at the Department of Human Services has reached a fever-pitch with news coming almost daily about resignations, improper payments, or cultural problems within the agency. It does not need to continue like this,” State Reps. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River) and Deb Kiel (R-Crookston) write in their letter.
“It has been profoundly disappointing that we must learn of each of these controversies through the media, rather than directly from your administration,” the letter continues. “With Speaker Hortman, Health and Human Services Finance Chair Liebling, and HHS Policy Chair Moran unwilling to engage in any meaningful oversight efforts, and your administration’s refusal to be forthcoming about the countless issues, I’ve concluded that the only path forward is an independent audit of DHS spending.”
Zerwas and Kiel conclude by suggesting that “the results of a forensic audit would save taxpayers far more money than it would cost to perform.”
“We need to address these issues head on to avoid continued government waste while ensuring that we are focused on the needs of Minnesotans,” they write.
DHS Commissioner Tony Lourey abruptly resigned in July, and Gov. Walz named Jodi Harpstead as his replacement. Walz maintains that Harpstead is suited to fix the issues at DHS.
Deputy Commissioner Claire Wilson, who announced and then rescinded her resignation in July, has once again decided to resign.
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