Senators begin 'chipping away' at problems at DHS, decline to fund overpayments

Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and she said lawmakers shouldn’t have to allocate $25 million in additional funds to cover overpayments to two tribes.

Internal memos from the Department of Human Services made public last month showed that the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation received $25.3 million in excess payments for medically assisted treatments covered through Medicaid over several years. In some cases, the state said, the tribes billed for reimbursement at the roughly $455-a-day rate for medication-assisted therapy when the services administered outside a clinical setting should’ve been billed at around $61 per day.

“The taxpayers didn’t make this mistake,” Benson said. “They’re not the ones who used the judgment to cause the overpayments, why should they be held responsible?”

Leaders from the tribes said the Department of Human Services was unclear in explaining how the treatments to help recover from opioid addiction should be billed and expressed frustration about the lack of meaningful government-to-government consultation with the state.

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“Had there been meaningful government-to-government communication, we probably would not find ourselves in the

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