Minnesota’s Department of Human Services Has Lost $300 Million in Three Years, State Senator Says


State Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) (pictured above), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, recently revealed that the Minnesota Department of Human Services has lost more than $300 million in the last three years, either “by error or fraud.”

As The Minnesota Sun reported, DHS said it must repay $48 million to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a sum that was issued to ineligible chemical dependency treatment centers. That’s in addition to the $25 million two tribal nations improperly received for substance abuse programs.

“A $48 million mistake is kind of a big deal. Yet here in Minnesota it’s just the latest item on a long list of problems coming from the Department of Human Services,” Benson writes in a new op-ed for The Star Tribune.

She then goes on to list the numerous financial issues facing DHS, stating:

In April of last year, DHS wrote off $30 million in MinnesotaCare premiums because their existing software couldn’t reconcile the payments.

The following month, we heard testimony of widespread fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program, estimated at more than $6 million by the Legislative Auditors’ office.

Then a series of data breaches exposed the personal information of up to 35,000 Minnesotans.

The department recently shocked the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation by telling them to repay $25 million in overpayments, even though the tribes had spent the money according to DHS guidelines.

Which leads us to this week’s round of overpayments — $48 million worth of Medicaid payments the federal government is requesting be paid back for improper use.

That’s not to mention, Benson notes, the “personnel problems that lead to resignations, un-resignations, re-resignations and three commissioners in less than a year.”

“As chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, I’ve dedicated time this interim to getting to the bottom of what has become an embarrassingly long list of failures and disappointments from the Department of Human Services,” she continues.

Benson expressed disappointment with incoming Commissioner Jodi Harpstead, who said in one of her first public interviews that Minnesotans should move past the scandals and focus on the “good work” of DHS employees.

“Perhaps the first thing she should do is ask to be fully informed about any other known issues at DHS, then meet with her boss Gov. Tim Walz and the committee chairs to discuss the problems. It’s time to get ahead of the whistleblowers and media reports and get an honest assessment of the current challenges,” she continues. “Because despite their best intentions, DHS and its employees lost, either by error or fraud, more than $300 million in the last three years.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “State Senator Michelle Benson” Sen. Michelle Benson.







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12 Thoughts to “Minnesota’s Department of Human Services Has Lost $300 Million in Three Years, State Senator Says”

  1. System Survivor

    I consider myself a whistleblower after being involved, as a parent, with Hennepin County family court, Minnesota Guardian ad Litem Program and CPS for over a decade of continuous litigation. Who would ever think that escaping domestic abuse would result in the court system placing sole custody with the identified perpetrator of abuse (also a wanted fugitive at the time of court order) and stripping the protective parent of all legal rights to the children, and denying visitation without just cause.

    My case alone has cost the tax payers of Minnesota millions of dollars… and there is no accountability in the courts, GAL program, CPS or social services. The fraud and wasteful spending is a much higher figure than anyone could imagine. The injustice, corruption and lawlessness in the system is rampant at all levels.

    When I attempted to raise concerns or file complaints, I faced retaliation from the judge and GAL, and court professionals. After presenting medical evidence proving abuse of my children was happening, the judge said my claim was frivolous and issued a fine against me. I’m ordered to pay my abuser’s atyorney for defending the person who is harming my children. The GAL told me if I don’t stop talking about abuse (and raising concerns with her behavior) that she will take custody from me. Which did happen. I also have been denied visitation. The GAL was able to get an attorney to represent her in court – at tax payer cost – after I filed a complaint. The attorney personally represented the GAL, and I was not afforded legal help and forced to go pro se. Another time, judge called recess, went into the hallway and pressured me to accept a custody deal I was not comfortable with. The judge told me “you better make a deal bc you won’t like what will happen if I make a decision”.

    My kids have also self reported abuse numerous times then are forced into court ordered therapy (at tax payer cost) called reunification, de programming, and Bridging that coerces them to recant allegations and stop talking about abuse, even if it is happening. The kids are forced to have a relationship with the abusive parent and led to believe the parent trying to protect them is unsafe. One of my children continued to report abuse (even with no contact with me) and at tax payer cost through medical assistance, has been heavily drugged with psych meds. The child sleeps all day, and is 16 years old. The child has lost their personality, no friends, they are a walking zombie. My other child has amnesia and does not remember their childhood…even a few years back. My child was also suicidal after being placed in custody of the abuser — at 7 years old.

    Whistleblowers need to be protected if you want them to come forward. Also – the system has been like this for over 30 years and nobody cares about the welfare of families and children. The only reason DHS is in the news is because it involves money. I have tried for over 10 years to seek help using the laws, legal remedies, filing complaints, speaking with state reps, speaking at committees, speaking publicly…nothing ever changes. There are many more parents in my situation.

    Wasteful spending and fraud is bad…but who cares about the families and children?

    1. Rebecca Draeger

      Many of Minnesota residents have been going through this, please join our group: Parents Assisting Parents MN on Facebook

  2. Ltpar

    I must have missed it in the article. How many government employees were fired for their mistakes? If it is government, you can count on one thing, No accountability.

  3. Jon

    Doing business with independent nations with no laws or paperwork accountability is risky, they have own hospitals and health care why is the state a partner.

    1. MakwaQ

      What makes you think that there are no laws or paperwork accountability, or why programs ran and operated by Tribal Nations cannot bill for services provided to clients and patients with Medicaid?

  4. Lorie

    Follow the money trail and tell them to get your hands off the tax payers money they need to be prosecuted for the handling of the federal monies slap some hands and take names expose everything until you get some transparency.

  5. Mike Selsor

    They need to take Federal money( our taxes) away from these over bloated inst.

    1. Scott Gamelin

      I feel the federal govt should not be helping any state that has sanctuary cities in them. I also believe people that are collecting goverment assistance should take drug test before they receive a check. As a hard working American I have to submit to drug test to be gainfully employed. If my hard earned money has to go to help people out for assistance then they to should abide by the same treatment as I am.


    It would seem that giving non citizens unless legal residents or visa or other authorised circumstance is being taken advantage of in a major way.. Muslims collecting child support assistance while not working? There also should be restrictions on having children if you are accepting benefits..A limit of two years not 10 or life..and legitimate searching for gainful employment. Just like unemployment does..Drug testing , and all terms of probation until citizens…Lets see how many even want to be here then…

    1. Dave Brazelton

      Its not just the refugees, its the democrats & so called charitable organizations who get them in and babysit them ON OUR DIME!!!.