Congress Sends Stinging Letter over MN Medicaid Spending

Updated: 09/03/2012 7:00 AM By: Jay Kolls

Two powerful members of Congress sent a sharp letter to Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. 

U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California want Jesson to answer some pointed questions about Minnesota's $4 billion Medicaid program. The letter questions Jesson's testimony before a Congressional Committee last April and raises questions about possible fraud in the state's alleged cross-subsidization of state health care programs with federal money.

Issa and Grassley, in the letter, tell Jesson they believe the state has improperly received upwards of $500 million of federal Medicaid reimbursements over the past decade. And, in an accompanying news release, the two lawmakers say it appears the state tried to defraud the Feds out of the Medicaid money. They have given Jesson a Sept. 13 deadline to clear up her "inconsistent testimony under oath" and to explain the rate setting used by the state to acquire federal dollars for Medicaid.

Jesson's office issued a statement that says, in part, they have done nothing improper and they have no firsthand knowledge of the way former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration ran the state's Medicaid program. But, in the statement, Jesson's agency says it is now in the process of hiring an independent auditor to go back over the Pawlenty years to determine what, if anything, went wrong.