Rice County Social Services has learned they will need to repay some funds received from the troubled Minnesota Department of Human Services.  An item was added to today's Board of Commissioners meeting as a Committee of the Whole at the Rice County Government Services Building in Faribault.

Social Services Department Director Mark Shaw told Commissioners Monday he  received communications from the DHS Commissioner informing Rice County they had discovered three issues impacting the county.

The first was the county share for substance use disorder at institutes of mental disease payments.  Shaw explained the state has been incorrectly calculating the county share dating back to January of 2014.  He said, "They had been using federal Medicaid funds to pay for these services.  Typically these are in patient substance use treatment programs and Federal law requires Minnesota DHS reimburse the federal government.  DHS estimates the county share is required to be collected from Rice County.  The calculation is $115,668 dollars that the county has underpaid."

The second issue Shaw added is, "The necessity to require all individuals that work in group residential settings have a enhanced background check for group home workers.  This law went into effect July first.  Title 4E payments are not available to counties until those providers come into compliance.  State statute allowed providers until March 1, 2020 to come in compliance.  So during the period of July 1 through March 1 we are not able to claim 4E federal payment for any of these placements of children in group homes or in treatment facilities.:

Shaw noted his department anticipated that would cost Rice County, "Several thousand dollars in revenue that we're not eligible to capture."  Shaw told commissioners his department accountants were working to get a impact number by the end of the week.

The other issue brought to Rice County Social Services attention by DHS was the discovery of an overpayment of cash assistance. "So if individuals were receiving cash in the Minnesota Family Investment Program, general assistance, Minnesota supplemental assistance. If they had an overpayment regardless of whether they were at fault by submitting incorrect information or if there was a DHS or County administrative error they were required to pay that overpayment back."

Shaw added, "As of 2016 the law changed no longer requiring them to pay that back.  The guidance the DHS issued to Counties and Tribes resulted in some individuals incorrectly having to pay these overpayments so they are in the process of trying to determine who made these overpayments and how much they were.  Apparently the department is responsible for that reimbursement, but it will require our staff time to assist in identifying these overpayments."

Shaw was asked if Rice County was the only county in this situation and he replied, "No. All of the counties are sharing this pain."  The substance abuse overpayments total about 9 million dollars.  Shaw told commissioners, "According to this letter there is not a facility in the state that is in compliance with the background checks requirement."

Commissioner Jeff Docken commented, "Where does the burden lie when it's somebody else's mistake?  That would be my question. I mean if all the other counties in the state of Minnesota did the same thing who is at fault?"

Shaw answered, "We've been following DHS's guidance in these issues."

Senator John Jasinski told commissioners, "There is so many issues they're trying to crack down and find all this money that was going out so there's going to be some disruption for a year or two while they try to get this straightened out.  All this money that's going out that shouldn't and they're overqualified and there's just so much stuff going out that they're working at the department to try to clean all those issues up."

The Faribault State Senator added, "That department is so big.  I think they're looking at trying to somehow figure it out so it's a little more manageable for the staff and just the need to change the whole mentality a little bit."

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