Congress Cranks Up Heat on Minnesota HMO/Medicaid Probe

Updated: 05/21/2012 12:35 PM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls

Congress is sending follow-up questions and requesting state documents.  All of this is connected to a Congressional investigation into Minnesota's $4 billion Medicaid program.

Congress is trying to figure out if Minnesota, in conjunction with four HMOs, artificially inflated Medicaid costs to illegally receive federal matching dollars.

Last month, the Government Oversight Committee grilled Minnesota's Human Services Commissioner, Lucinda Jesson, about the state's contracting procedures with the four HMOs that run the state's public health care programs. Those HMOs are Medica, U-Care, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota and HealthPartners.

Now, the Chairman of the Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Isa, (R) California, wants Commissioner Jesson to answer 10 pages of questions as a follow-up to last month's testimony. Isa also requested more state documents from Commissioner Jesson as well. Rep. Isa, in his letter to Commissioner Jesson, pointedly asked her to defend what he describes as conflicting testimony. Rep. Isa told Commissioner Jesson some of her testimony is inconsistent with statements she has publicly made over the past year.

State Senator, John Marty, (DFL) Roseville, looked at the letters and told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that it appears Congress is turning up the heat on the Dayton Administration over this issue. Sen. Marty also told us he would like to see the four HMOs testify under oath in Washington. Sen. Marty says the fact that Congress is sending follow-up letters to previous testimony shows "they are serious about this investigation."

There is a Congressional investigation into the state's Medicaid program, and the Center for Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees Medicaid, is also investigating the state and the four HMOs.