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New ‘fraud’ law creates hassle for state employees — and for legislators themselves

Minnesota State Capitol
REUTERS/Eric Miller
If harassing members of public employee unions was the intent, those who pushed the bill may have overshot their mark.

Buried deep in a government operations bill from last session is a significant headache for all state employees. But within that same measure is a touch of justice, too.

The headaches — and a lot of anxiety — come from a law favored by the Republican-controlled Legislature last session requiring that all state employees file copies of marriage and birth certificates to an Indiana company in order to verify dependents they claim for state health insurance.

The documents are to be audited by employees of HMS, Employer Solutions, a company that is receiving $400,000 to conduct the audits.

Not surprisingly, state employees, who only a few days ago received notice that the documents must be signed, sealed and delivered by May 11, find the requirements annoying, at best, offensive at worst.

Harassment of state workers?

“What we’re upset about is that it just seems like harassment of state employees,” said Chet Jorgenson, state president of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE).  “And there’s a presumption of guilt that’s disturbing.”

If harassing members of public employee unions was the intent, those who pushed the bill may have overshot their mark. That’s where the sweet justice comes in.

It turns out that all state employees who are insured by the state health program must submit the documents. Judges, legislative staffers — and yes, even legislators — are in the same pickle as union members.

They must find their wedding certificates, the birth certificates of their children or get copies – and then submit them, along with a copy of the front page of their 2010 or 2011 federal tax return. (The tax return is required to verify the names of spouse and dependents. Financial information, as well as the Social Security numbers, are to be redacted. The company assures state employees that all this private information will be managed in a secure fashion.)

The list of things to do — and not do — runs on for two pages.

“Just got mine a few days ago,’’ said House Minority Leader Paul Thissen of the thick packet. “I need to bring it [to the floor] and remind my Republican colleagues, ‘You’re responsible for this.’ ”

He rolled his eyes.

“This is what you end up with when you have an obsession with fraud,” he said.

Fraud detection and prevention

Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, doesn’t deny that concern about fraud was at the heart of the measure, which was included as a very small part of the very large government operations bill that was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton in ending last summer’s government shutdown.

Sen. Dave Thompson
Sen. Dave Thompson

“The idea is clear,” said Thompson. “It’s to detect and prevent fraud and save the taxpayers’ money.”

Is there that much fraud being committed by state employees?

“I don’t know how much there is,” said Thompson. “That’s the whole point. I hope we learn there’s very little or none.”

When the law was being discussed last session, some members of the GOP were tossing around big numbers as to how much the state would recover from such an exhaustive audit. There was talk that as much as $15 million could be recovered, presumably because of fraud being committed by state employees.

But, in the end, that number shriveled: Republicans declared in the final bill that $1.7 million should be banked into the state budget from money that will be saved by the audit. Time will tell if  that more modest amount can be recovered.

It’s not as if the state — or the unions — ever has condoned fraud.

In the past, state auditors, whose numbers have dwindled because of budget cutbacks, have nailed some who commit fraud.

But in the past, the state also has taken a positive approach to dealing with the complexities around who qualifies as a dependent and who doesn’t.

“Sometimes there is confusion,’’ Jorgenson said. “The Office of Management and Budget has always worked hard at educating all of us on difficult issues. ‘These grandchildren are eligible, these are not.’ It’s been a positive relationship. This approach is a slap at that.”

(It should be noted that although the Office of Management and Budget is responsible for seeing that the law is carried out, OMB officials testified against the value and wisdom of this action during hearings last session.)

Jorgenson pointed out that during open enrollment each year, employees verify who their dependents are, swearing with their signatures that they’re being truthful.

Presumed guilty?

Putting together this documentation makes many employees feel as if they’re presumed guilty and must prove they’re honest.

Finally, there’s that headache — finding and getting copies of all the documents.

Jorgenson and his wife, for example, were married in Banff, Alberta, Canada. It’s a beautiful place, but over the years, the Jorgensons have moved three times. The result?

“I’ve been going through boxes in our attic, looking for our marriage certificate,” Jorgenson said. “I’m sure there are a lot of people in my position. This stuff often isn’t at your fingertips.”

Jorgenson is sure that someday he’ll come across the certificate. But, with the May deadline looming, he’s been attempting to get a copy of the certificate from officials in Canada. So far, no luck.

“All I’m getting so far is messages in French and English, ‘All our operators are busy, please call back another time,’ ” said Jorgenson.

His situation is hardly unique. State employees come from all over the world.

What happens to the families who can’t come up with the proper documents by the May 11 deadline?

Theoretically, Jorgenson said, dependents would be dropped from health care coverage. But, he vowed, unions “will be prepared to fight for extensions.”

There have been some suggestions that this measure is a product of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the national conservative organization which has become a symbol of all right-wing wretchedness in the eyes of many on the other end of the spectrum. There is language in ALEC documents similar to aspects of this measure.

Thompson denied that this language was a product of ALEC.

“It is possible that ALEC is in favor of this,” said Thompson. “But until recently, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as ALEC.”

Now that he does know there is an ALEC — Thompson says he’s not a member — he has no problem with a national organization that generates and supports conservative ideals. Why, he asked, is it any different for an organization such as ALEC to attempt to influence the political process than it is for such organizations as the AFL-CIO?

Thompson, by the way, received his packet of information on what he needs to do to verify the existence of his dependents a few days ago. He said he has not yet had time to look at it. But he thinks he knows where he can find the family certificates.

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Comments (65)

Our Brilliant Legislature Does It Again

So much for the Republican Party being the party of small government. Their slogan should really either be, "Solutions Looking for Problems," or, "Don't Use a Tack Hammer When a Sledge Hammer Will Do."

If this actually worked, everyone would be doing it.

They'll never recover enough fraud to justify this expense. The question I have is what connections do GOP lawmakers have to that contractor? That's quite a nice boondoggle they've got there.

I've worked in private industry my entire adult life and have never had an employer do this. Even self-insured employers didn't ask me for this. Clearly, if this was a cost-effective process everyone in private industry would be doing it.

There's also serious potential for discrimination on basis of national origin here. People who were born or married in places where it is difficult to get documents may lose their health insurance. I'm sure this didn't occur to the GOP leadership, which basically lives in an increasingly imaginary homogeneous suburban bubble.

Private companies are doing it

Many private companies are doing it. Given that it costs $2500 - $4000 for each ineligible person covered by the plan, organizations have a huge incentive to remove their coverage. The companies that provide this service will often guarantee that the savings will exceed the cost of their fee. Many companies now require similar verification for newly covered individuals.

Please name (at least) one

Otherwise, your post is unverifiable.

Target

Target Corporation is currently requiring all employees to provide these exact documents or else face termination from the health plan. I can verify this because I am married to a Target employee and am currently rooting around for these documents myself. I am also offended because the letter from this firm starts of with wording, in bold, in Spanish. My husband has a Hispanic last name. I sure hope every single employee at Target is getting these and not just the ones with Hispanic last names.

So does the State of Minnesota

You are mistaken - the state already requires this documentation when you add someone to your plan. I already provided a marriage certificate in 97 and my daughter's birth certificate in 99. Now I have to re-supply them, but other private information.

It is not as if they state doesn't already have plenty of checks and balances. This isn't about saving any $ - it's about harassing state employees while giving some GOP friend a contract.

follow the $

Yes Susan,
"They'll never recover enough fraud to justify this expense. The question I have is what connections do GOP lawmakers have to that contractor? That's quite a nice boondoggle they've got there." EVERY TIME the GOP comes up with one of these contracts I wish there were still investigate reporters who'd follow the money.

I'm sure they did

Susan said,
"I'm sure this didn't occur to the GOP leadership, which basically lives in an increasingly imaginary homogeneous suburban bubble."

The bigotry of this bunch is so apparent, in so many ways (voter ID, marriage amendment and more) - I'm sure they know who will be hit the hardest.

Solutions?

For a party that trusts "the people", they sure are a suspicious group. You would think that the front page of the tax return would be enough rather than all these other required forms. How many people have fax machines at their disposal? I suppose the state fax machines will be humming with long distance calls to their out of state contractor.

The ironic things is that if they find people who should not be receiving family health care benefits and those people need care, the probable result is just more people on medicaid or uninsured. And who pays for that!

This is similar to their voter fraud problem that they are trying to solve.

Can't they work on the obvious problems, not the ones that they suspect might be there - potholes are obvious, the unemployment problem is obvious. Try working on those!

Psychological Projection

Republicans in general suffer from this disorder, they believe that everyone is dishonest and untrustworthy as they are.

Speaking of waste

I have now spent six hours navigating voice mail menus, being on "hold" and talking to various people trying to get a copy of my marriage certificate in California. With almost no one staffing this kind of office nowadays it has been an incredible waste of my time. In over 30 years of blissful married I have never once had to produce this document. I do hope I can eventually get this done so we don't lose our health insurance. I may need it to deal with my blood pressure.

The Party that doesn't like to pay for anything

The republicans are willing to spend $400,000 to find out if there is a problem, but they won't work the known problems of the state like jobs, infrastructure, etc. It is like they are blind to the real problems. They are blinded by social engineering and problems that probably don't exist. I think the republicans have been bitten by their own rabid fear mongering. They have been preaching the sky is falling for a long time and apparently now even they believe it. Keep at it republicans you will get your answer to the question "are we working the right issues" in November. Republican desperation is not pretty. Republicans across our great land do have a leader, it is Rush Limbaugh. Rush recently said you republicans have to keep the fear and anger going. Notice he made no notice of any facts, just fear and anger.

So now Mr. Thompson et al.

can have a taste of what the Voter I.D. bill will do to students and the elderly, disabled and poor members of our citizenry, including people of color and immigrants, who will be denied their right to vote if they can't come up with the required supporting documents. What penalty, if any, will legislators face if they don't make the May 11 deadline?

I'd guess there is about the same amount of fraud to be found among state employees that there is voter fraud taking place in our elections: a number almost too small to measure. Another solution in search of a problem.

The new party slogan

I have to echo both the Shambo and McNerney comments.

This is a solution looking for a problem – and wondering about the connection to the contractor is an excellent starting point for an investigation. Private OR public, unless there's rampant fraud, and at least some evidence supporting that notion, I'll be amazed if enough fraud is uncovered to justify the expense of this, and Susan's comment seems right on the mark to me. Private industry is nothing if not interested in cost effectiveness, and if this were a cost-effective process, its use would be widespread around the country. It's not.

Her comment about the homogeneous suburban bubble is also right on the mark. Plenty of people purposely got married in some exotic location, difficult to access on even a good day, specifically because it seemed "romantic." It could be months before those documents arrive from Fiji – if they ever do.

Much like the proposed constitutional amendment requiring voter identification, is there any evidence that this measure is actually necessary? There's no voter fraud to speak of, but we're going to have an election about a constitutional amendment that addresses that particular non-problem, and now Senator Thompson, in his wisdom, would like to spend quite a few state dollars to FIND OUT if there's any appreciable fraud, since evidence of such an issue is apparently conspicuously absent.

Let's see how Senator Thompson votes if the Vikings stadium issue comes before the legislature. That will tell us a lot about his knowledge of fraud.

Healthpartners has been doing

Healthpartners has been doing this for a number of years.

Clarification please

Do you mean Healthpartners has been requiring this of their own employees? And if so, where do you come by your knowledge?

Clarification

Are you referring to those who are insured by Health Partners or those employed by Health Partners? We are insured by Health Partners and they request a self verification of other insurance coverage, but do not request documentation.

Still waiting, Mr. Furguson

Your post is confusing. I am also covered by Health Partners, but have never been asked for the level of documentation cited in the article. So if it is employees rather than those being insured that you are referring to, that needs clarification. And if it is employees, is the source of your knowledge hearsay, or can you share the source of your knowledge.

It is important that claims of fact be backed up in some way, otherwise the discussion lacks credibility.

Employed by Health Partners

and getting their health insurance benefits (family coverage).

I don't think it's really an issue if the employer is paying and in fact may be a good idea. You have to show a health insurance card when you go to the doctor, why not shouldn't you have to verify eligibility upstream, especially given the cost of health insurance?

If people are in the pool who should not be, they are just driving up employer costs.

Don't let facts influence you...

We already have to "prove" dependents are valid upstream. I had to provide a marriage certificate and birth certificate to cover my family - well - to be allowed to PAY to cover my family. This year my costs are raising so much we may end of switching to my husband's plan. His tiny office has better insurance than what we get from my job. He gets raises, bonuses and market rate salary too!

This is just state employee bashing and a juicy contract for someone's friend. I'm sure the contract will go over $400,000 and the state will pay it. They'll blame state employees for that too.

Allowed to pay

I'm guessing that you are paying the smaller percentage of insurance costs. Plus there is the issue that employees with family insurance coverage essentially get compensated at a higher rate than singles (family coverage costs the employer more).

Not that the state doesn't screw up. They should have allowed school districts to pool health insurance coverage to save costs, but didn't.

If the verification doesn't have a good cost benefit return, it should go away. Otherwise, audits are a good idea.

How similar . . . .

are the requirements and kinds of documentation you are asked to follow to those now in place for State employees?

Do you know anything about the company performing your verifications? Have you ever had need to contact them, and if so, was it a successful experience?

Timelines (due date v.s. how long it will take some to obtain required verification) have been raised as an issue by commenters here. Do you recall whether your initial (first time you had to come up with this documentation) timelines were reasonable and adequate?

Finally, do you know anything about the appeals process for those whose coverage is denied? Or the error rate of the denials?

Sorry for all the questions, but if companies really are doing this, it would be instructive to know how their plans resemble/differ from this new requirement for State employees.

There was a time when this

There was a time when this law would have made sense. For a long time in MN your dependent could stay on your plan until their 19th birthday or until they were 23 if they were a full time student. Working in the insurance industry I can tell you there definitely were some dependents who should not have been covered. Enough to cover the cost of auditing, I can't tell you but I bet it would be close.

MN (and the Feds) have since changed the law which now says dependents can stay on their parent's plan until their 26th birthday (even if the dependent is married) regardless of student status. I would be willing to bet that the amount of fraud now is neglible.

As I have stated previously, politicians really need to there homework when it comes to bills like this. This is another example of a bill that will cause a lot of hassle but in the long run will affect hardly anyone.

More than just an inconvenience

My wife is a state employee and we're currently dealing with these new requirements. She's been working for the state for more than ten years and we've been married for seventeen years, now all of sudden we have to produce these documents which for us has not been a big deal, but here's the problem: You'll note that this company in Iowa is getting paid $400,000 to process all these documents. That's a lot of money but it's huge underbid. You have to remember these guys now have to process 200,000 or more documents and they've only given themselves 30 days to do it. If you don't produce the document by May 1st, you get cut off, you insurance gets cancelled- and there is no appeal process, you have to wait a year for open enrollment in order to get coverage.

Now if you crunch the numbers on this, for $400,000 they can only hire 20 -30 people to process all these records, and they've only got 30 days to record them and file them. You going to have swamped workers dealing hundreds of thousands of documents in a very short period of time. There will be mistakes, for instance they have yet to confirm that they've received documents we sent over a week ago. There will be data entry errors, and misplaced or miss filed documents, and people will be cut off because this, with no recourse. Furthermore, the way this is set up, the company actually has incentives to cut people off as evidence of fraud. It's a lot more than just an inconvenience or hassle to lose your health care insurance for a year. This rinky dink outfit in Iowa clearly either thinks they will make millions on uncovered fraud (which is a ridiculous assumption) and bid way low on processing cost. You can't do something like this on the cheap. Once again the Republican business with their mediocre business acumen have screwed the pooch and we'll be dealing this for month or years to come.

No one said

No one said that the employees that will be doing the checking will be doing so in the US of A. You can hire a lot more people in India...

Money saver, eh?

And if they find less than $400,000 worth of fraud? They've just spent almost half a million dollars on hassling state employees. And if someone's insurance gets cut off because they can't get their marriage certificate and/or their kids' birth certificates, and they sue? I bet it'll cost even more. Yes, this is what we have to look forward to with Voter ID, too.

Not to mention...

Well at least the Republicans created some jobs... in Iowa. Just by comparison, down in Florida their spending $175 million do disqualify $80,000 worth of welfare applicants who fail drug test. Yet another budget savor MN Republicans are trying to bring to home.

Idiots

They know nothing about business, if they want to do this, they can get it done free.

An April Fools Joke?

Is this really happening? First, it does sound like a harebrained idea that could be mentioned in a subcommittee hearing by a brand new legislator who doesn't have a clue about real life or the way laws affect people--yes, they do exist. But second, how could the full legislature enact such an intrusive and ill-considered law? Didn't some of the senior members warn that this might not be a good idea, given the low probability of fraud? Why not do a little auditing first to see what the incidence of fraud is? Finally, I assume Governor Dayton actually signed the bill, making him a complicit actor. Remember, he does have a line item veto.

Funny, all the complaints

But this has been a requirement for US military servicemembers for about two decades.

If you want a benefit, is it too much to ask that you are entitled to receive it?

Actually it is

if the risk of denying legitimate folks their health insurance (apparently with no recourse) and the cost of implementing the program exceed the benefits, then yes, it is too much to ask.

Just like voter ID, this is designed to harass and impede, not to stop any significant amount of fraud.

Wow

and therein lies the mentality of the entitlement society. Just give me my benefits and shut up.

That's not what she said

She was basically saying that if the cost/benefit ratio of this idea doesn't make sense financially (i.e. costs more to implement than the savings that are realized), then it's a bad idea.

Sounds like a pretty conservative-friendly statement to me.

And...

The Pentagon isn't outsourcing the job to some rinky dink firm in Iowa on the cheap.

Is there a source . . . .

that describes how this is implemented, specifically what documentation the service members are asked to provide, who does the verification, and what recourse (appeal process) is available in the event a service members' coverage is denied based on this verification process?

Don't let facts influence you...

We already do this to add dependents - they are making us do it over again and include other personal documents like tax returns. It's all about hassling us, not about saving one dime.

Does the military really make you do the equivalent? - prove it - you can't.

How is this small government?

Why are Republicans called the party of small government? This has big brother/government written all over it. What kind of dupe is this Thompson joker? Who's pulling his strings?

Seriously, when you add up the hours spent by employees collecting and sending these documents, the processing time, the admin costs and all the rest, there is no way that this effort will even pay for itself. Its a complete waste of money and time.

Absurdly, ridiculously, republicanly stupid

So, myself and my husband being married 28 years, gathering up the required data. My husband then understands that this information is not being submitted to the state or state ran office, but to a 3rd party company in the state of Indiana that does not have a physical address other than a PO box number. This information that they are asking us to mail out to an unknown entity would be a wet-dream for the cyber identity theft criminal. We go through painstaking rituals of shredding personal documents prior to discarding to protect personal identity and the theft thereof. I find it simply ignorant to ask for a billing statement, which may include electric, water, or garbage services. Therefore, in so many words, our garbage man truly does know who does and does not reside within our residence? Who is going to audit these service companies that we are submitting this data from and how are they to know any better on who resides within any given home than the mail carrier. A monthly or quarterly billing statement can be used in place of a financial document dated wihtin the last 60 days with married couples names and address on the statement. My husband is not the state employee and he would like to know, where is the opportunity to opt out on sharing personal information with a 3rd party entity that he has no association with, yet not lose health insurance benefits provided by his wife, the employee? Where is our guarantee, that at no point and no time, this information or parts of it, leaves this 3rd party entity for other purposes such as revenue streams, or who knows.

Only one name

And what if only one of you is listed on all the utility bills?

Someone asked about the company

You can access their website by googling HMS Employer Services.

It is a very large company with offices in many states, but not in Minnesota. It describes its work as studying the beneficiaries of government-funded programs and the employees of private companies.

HMS says that an average of 4% of employees are ineligible for some or all of the benefits they receive. With a human resources department like that of the State of Minnesota, I can't believe the percentage would exceed .004%.

About the company

Thanks for pointer Bernice.

This is just another bogus corporate efficiency practice being imported into government. Next we'll have laws mandating personality inventories so we can enhance our teamwork.

Look, the idea that collecting these documents is some kind of "innovative" auditing strategy is beyond absurd. First, there's nothing innovative about this. Second, in order to make this work they not only have to collect these documents, they then have to verify them somehow. I hate to tell you this but anyone can print up a birth certificate or a marriage license. You can also put whatever you want into the 1090 form and make a copy. HMS would have to compare hundreds of thousands of documents to the originals in order to verify them. I'm not even sure a company like HMS would have legal access to the IRS files. Furthermore, HMS is explicitly requesting black and white copies (probably because they don't have the facilities to deal with color) which makes forgery even easier. The color security features built into documents are eliminated when convert them to BW.

Does anyone here really think that for $400,000 HMS is collecting these document AND comparing them to the originals? Are they really looking at my marriage license from California and comparing it with the original? CAN they even look at my 1040 and compare it with the one I actually filed with the IRS? At a minimum they've got 100,000 documents on their hands. Do you really think their collecting and verifying all these document for $4.00 OR LESS a piece? We're paying for nothing more than document shuffling here under the guise of "innovative" auditing. This is an example of typical private sector efficiency being imported into the public sector.

Finally...

Anyways HMS isn't going to find any fraud this way, what they WILL do is disqualify people for failing to get the paper work in on time. I predict that most of the problems will stem from HMS failure to process the documents in time, and or failing to file them properly.

Just as a point of interest, if you call the Iowa HMS office, using the information from their own website, two of the four numbers are disconnected, one has been changed, and the 866 number gets you a long and incomprehensible message and a chance to leave a message that will responded to with a day or so. In other words that office doesn't even have a receptionist... doesn't exactly inspire confidence does it?

Vetting

It sounds like the Legislature did the same "rigorous" job of vetting this company that DHS did of vetting David Proffitt before hiring him for the hospital in St. Peter . . . . . . . .

yeah

What was up with that Proffit deal?

Many don't have receptionists

It's a way to reduce their costs for actual customer service. Send people on a telephone run around, and they'll either get their answer from a machine, or (more likely) they'll get fed up and hang up.

Much more than $400K in costs

Many state workers will need the help of their respective HR offices to file by deadline. On the state's dime, employees who do not have fax machines, scanners, decent computers or Internet at home will need assistance. I'm already aware of many maintenance workers and those who are more labor orientated employees that ned help to view paychecks online (only means to see pay/benefits) and get W2's. Some of the hardest working folks and honest folks I know will be put out the most. Classy move Senator Thompson (or whomever he received the language from).

A list of concerns

Many of the questions and concerns being raised here about this documentation requirement for employees to verify eligibility for employer insurance coverage are valid whether the employer is the State (or Federal) Government, the Military, or a business:

1) What is the complete list of documentation being required from the employee?

2) How long is the timeframe between notification of documentation required and employee's deadline for having all documentation submitted?

3) Is this timeframe reasonable considering realistic lead times for obtaining all required documentation (taking into account the possible need to acquire some forms of documentation from out of state and perhaps even from out of the country)?

4) What are the "bona fides" of the company verifying the submitted documentation? How were those bona fides verified and by whom?

5) If the employer is a governmental entity, how was the verifying company selected and prices negotiated?

6) Is the company actually verifying documents (i.e. comparing submitted documentation to actual originals, confirming with issuing authority, etc.) or simply marking off items on a checklist as they are received?

7) Is the verifying company checking for forgeries and if so, how?

8) Is the verifying company notifying applicants in a timely manner as to whether their documentation has been accepted or rejected?

9) How easy is the verifying company to contact? Operating hours? Live lines v.s. recordings? Etc.

10) If documentation is rejected, what - if any - appeals process is available to the employee?

11) Does that appeals process make a reasonable allowance for correcting the deficiency in time to keep from losing insurance coverage for the year in which the documentation is being submitted?

12) At what point - if at all - is this verification process audited to verify what percentage of employees would have obtained coverages they were ineligible for in the absence of this verification process?

13) Assuming such an audit is conducted, how often is this done, and are the results made available? If so, how and to whom?

14) As a part of each audit, is the overall verification process evaluated as to whether it is still cost-efficient relative to the stated objectives of requiring a verification process in the first place?

15) Is a mechanism in place for discontinuing the verification process if it is found that the cost/benefit ratio doesn't make sense (i.e. a predetermined threshhold for that cost/benefit ratio, a means for exiting the contract with the verifying company and/or renegotiating the price being charged by the verifying company, etc.)

16) Is a mechanism in place for terminating the contract with the verifying company if it is found that they are not actually performing the work as promised (i.e. not actually verifying documents, not making themselves available to employees for questions or problems, etc.)

That's pretty good for a starting list, but I'm sure there's still more. What have I missed?

Missing

17) If the employer is covering a $15-20k per year family policy, should they be allowed to confirm that the right people are using it in order to manage costs?

18) Is the employer required to provide health insurance at all?

Health insurance is a huge benefit, we shouldn't quibble when employers are trying to manage costs for the benefit of the company, other employees (the pool) or government unit. If the audit doesn't have a good cost-benefit because all the employees are properly enrolled, the state should discontinue it.

This is no quibble

This process isn't verifying anything, and it assumes fraud without demonstrating it. Insurance fraud is already illegal, and such fraud is grounds for immediate termination. Are employers entitled to verify eligibility? Sure, and that currently takes place. The real question is whether nor not employers are entitled deny coverage to eligible people under the guise of an "innovative audit"?

The answer to #18 is yes. The state in this case is contractually obligated to provide health insurance.

"You should consider yourself lucky you even HAVE a job!"

I'm sorry, Craig, but you're sounding an awful lot like one of those employers who answers employees' complaints and/or criticisms with that age-old deflection, "You should consider yourself lucky you even HAVE a job!"

Kind of reminds me of Oliver getting beaten by the orphanage master for the crime of being hungry and asking for "More, please.".

On the other hand, your final sentence acknowledges my points #12-15 and - I think - gets to the heart of a lot of what is causing people concern with this overall verification process as well as how it is being implemented.

but I'm not an employer

I'm an employee who's department is facing budget cuts, benefit cuts and layoffs who wants everything to run as efficiently as possible. But if I was an employer, I'd implement this if there was a good cost/benefit outcome.

I didn't say you were an employer

I said you were sounding like one, in the sense that we peon employees should just shut up and let our overlord employers do whatever they want without a peep of complaint, criticism, or question over whether things are being implemented in the best way.

Which brings me - again - to your followup point - "I'd implement this if there was a good cost/benefit outcome.". Nice idea, but how does anyone know what the "cost/benefit outcome" is unless the process is audited at some point to see if it's providing the claimed cost savings?

And that is among the list of concerns of commenters here. The verification process has been imposed. No one seems to know if the legislature ever plans any followup studies/audits to confirm whether or not it's a worthwhile expense.

The employer isn't "covering

The employer isn't "covering a $15-20k per year family policy" whether in a government position or any company. Workers work. It's part of the compensation for their work and agreed upon before starting.

At the state level employees must already provide documentation when dependents are added to a policy. This audit is a waste of taxpayer money and useless busywork.

Legislation from a Tea Party Disc Jockey..

Public: Hey Disc Jockey, this is costing use $400,000
Thompson: Yeah but it's gonna prevent fraud.
Public: How much fraud is there?
Thompson: None that we know of.

Brilliant!!

Google "dependent eligibility audit report"

A quick and dirty search

University of Colorado, 2010
"The total project cost was $180,032. The Secova fee for the DEV was $149,515;
postage was $30,517. If use of the CU medical plans decreases by $2.3 million
in FY11, as projected, the return on investment (ROI) is 13:1. Savings should
continue in subsequent years."
https://www.cu.edu/pbs/benefits/downloads/dependent-eligibility-verifica...

St Thomas, 2011
"ContinuousHealth, the company contracted by the University St. Thomas to conduct the audit of the university’s medical plan, found that 56, or 4.42 percent, of the 1,211 active dependents enrolled in the plan to be ineligible for benefits."
http://www.stthomas.edu/bulletin/2010/10/13/results-published-for-depend...

University of Nebraska, 2011
"Of nearly 16,000 dependents audited, only 421 – or 2.7 percent – were found to be ineligible to receive insurance benefits."
http://nebraska.edu/faculty-and-staff/benefits/announcements/dependent-e...

West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), 2011
"HDM/PCG is pleased to have saved PEIA approximately $22,344,188 in Year 1 and to have
provided PEIA with a Year 1 return on investment of approximately 29:1"
http://www.peia.wv.gov/forms-and-downloads/Documents/financial_reports/o...

I'm interested in seeing the results from the MN effort.

Hmmm...

Both the UofC and WV reports recommend the employer check documentation for new hires and new dependents - the State of Minnesota ALREADY DOES THAT. I sure appears most of the fraud lies with covering 19-25 year olds. Instead of blowing all this $ why not ask parents of kids in this age range to verify eligibility.

Nah... That would make sense and wouldn't bash state employees with a bang and flash.

The isn't about efficiency

Craig,

The state employee health care plan is already the most efficient in the state. They've saved millions of dollars with a variety of member authorized and negotiated initiatives. This is a waste of resources, and an additional layer of inefficiency.

OK, someone else's turn to search google

Paul-"The state employee health care plan is already the most efficient in the state." The most efficient state plan in the state? The most efficient health plan in the state? How do we look like compared to organizations that do the best job? St. Thomas looked pretty good, with only 4.42 percent of active dependents enrolled in the plan to be ineligible for benefits. Is MN better than the University of Nebraska, which only had 2.7% ineligible? How much is each percentage gained worth when the MN workforce has an FTE count of 35,575? What's an acceptable level of efficiency?

Of course that's the MN Office of Budget and Management FTE number from the second quarter of 2010. The "citizen information" has not been updated since then, which is a pretty good example of how state govt has been working lately, a little behind. Nothing against the employees, the system is just overburdened.

OK, your turn to pony up with some hard data on what efficient means in the context of dependent eligibility. What are the measures?

It might be more interesting to consider the political fallout

The verification thing is already a done deal. We're arguing about details after the cows have left the barn. We'll get a report in a year or two.

So onward to the future...

So does the GOP have anything to lose by needling State Employees? If state employees get angry, is that to their benefit or not? Presumably, the Governor also signed this into law, does that provide cover to the GOP or leave the Governor on the hook?

No Cost/Benefit Analysis Anticipated

On April 3, 2012, I contacted the Office of Management and Budget, the state agency charged with implementing this audit of dependent eligibility for health insurance coverage, to request the results of any cost/benefit analysis regarding this audit.

The OMB's public information officer said that the law as enacted does NOT require conducting any cost/benefit analysis regarding the results of this audit, and it is uncertain whether any cost/benefit analysis based on the data from this audit will be performed.

Also, I was informed that the law as enacted requires reducing the cost of health insurance coverage by $1.7million REGARDLESS of the results of this audit; so, if the cost reductions resulting from eliminating some number of dependents from health insurance coverage do not amount to $1.7million, other not yet identified steps will be taken to achieve a cost reduction of $1.7million.

So there ya' go!

Yet another piece of "feel good" legislation jammed through by inexperienced legislators who don't know how to think things all the way through - just "pass it now", and worry about all those darn pesky details and consequences later!

Par for the course I guess

Presumably the contractor will give the state some numbers, to at least justify the $400k payment. I'm not getting the warm fuzzies about the state management of anything at the moment.

"Fraud" Law

1. ANECDOTE: A rabbit runs like crazy through the woods and runs into a bear. “What’s up?” asks the bear. “Run away as fast as a bear can!!! There are people in the woods cutting fifth pad!!!” “Idiot,” says the bear, “we all have four”. “Don’t you know our system?” exclaims the rabbit. "They will cut first, count second!!!”

2.INITIAL THESIS: Modern technology is as good as a girl that does data entry.

Now you know the truth.
1. Some eligible people will be cut due to mistakes or the willingness of HMS to justify the expenses. And for how long? Nobody knows how fast those eligible will restore the order. Nobody seems to know even how and to who to appeal.
2. Nowadays, it's easy to make any document. Apparently, HMS needs to verify the authenticity of it. How long it's going to take to verify 400,000 docs? For $1 per document?
3. Identity theft is on the rise. And the state is giving very-very confidential information to a third party? Definitely, we elected wrong people to rule our life. I cannot even imagine the misery of having this information stolen only because of the will of our legislators.
4. Last but not least. Yes, many companies verify information presented by their (I repeat "their") employees. And the State does it to some extend. And everybody knows the consequences of being caught. Is there any fraud now? Probably. Does it cost 400K? Definitely not.
5. AND WHAT IS THE PRICE TAG FOR STOLEN INFORMATION? ISN'T THE RISK TOO HIGH?

non-english

I hope someone at HMS speaks Dutch as we got married in the Netherlands.

Another crappy contractor

I took yesterday off to do my taxes and submit the five required documents for this "state employee harassment project."

Surprise, surprise - the web system wouldn't upload my files. Their system - not mine - kept crashing. Nothing new with GOP contractors - we had a major mess when they f@#$ ed up our drug coverage a few years ago.

When my husband suggested I mail the documents I screamed,m "oh no, then we won't have any proof" and I don't trust this process at all.

I sent in a help ticket to HMS - we'll see if they every respond.

Though I'm sure I'll be standing at the fax machine as a previous poster mentioned.