Audit found ineligible people on state’s public-health rolls

REUTERS/USA Today Sports
The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba says, “Meet Minneapolis, the city’s tourism arm, had initially predicted the [All-Star] game would mean a $75 million boost for the local economy, but based on closer study has now revised the figure to $50 million.

Other than this, everything else is running great. The AP story says, “Minnesota’s legislative auditor says the state Department of Human Services has failed to adequately verify the eligibility of people who enroll in public health care programs through the state’s health insurance exchange MNsure. In a report released Wednesday, the Office of the Legislative Auditor says it found many instances where department paid for Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare benefits for people who weren’t eligible because their incomes were too high or didn’t qualify for other reasons. It says the department also charged incorrect MinnesotaCare premium rates.”

It’s hard to put into words how shocked I am. The Strib’s Mike Kaszuba says, “Meet Minneapolis, the city’s tourism arm, had initially predicted the [All-Star] game would mean a $75 million boost for the local economy, but based on closer study has now revised the figure to $50 million. The state Department of Revenue, reviewing sales tax data for Minneapolis, added that the true figure could be as high as $55 million, or as low as $21 million.” $25 million here, $25 million there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.  

Damn technology. Says Kyle Potter of the AP, “She’s no Grinch about it, but Lynn Grewing is the principal who stole snow days. The early arrival of wintry weather in the Midwest this week gave Grewing an opening to test out a virtual class day at St. Cloud Cathedral high school in central Minnesota, having students whip out laptops or iPads and work from home. After a successful test run, Grewing declared Tuesday that students’ cherished snow days are a thing of the past — at least at Cathedral.”

Often referred to as the “six months and a day” tax gambit, where (mostly affluent) Minnesotans dodge state taxes by claiming to be only part-time residents, gets another going over in a Strib piece by Jennifer Bjorhus. “A wealthy Twin Cities couple has scored an uncommon tax court victory that has Revenue, not accustomed to defeat, mulling an appeal to the Supreme Court. The residency win for Curtis and Stacy Marks comes amid heightened public attention to Minnesota’s long-running residency questions, stirred up by two Supreme Court opinions last year in which NBA referee Ken Mauer and businessman William D. Larson lost big. … Among the strikes against [Mauer], according to the Supreme Court decision, was that his efforts to sell his 10,600-square-foot home in Afton during those years were halfhearted. Another was that he kept at least two of his four cars here: two Lexuses and a Rolls-Royce Corniche were largely garaged in Minnesota during the tax years in question. The 1988 Honda Accord? That was in Florida.”

Tomorrow is “Give to the Max Day.” The PiPress has a primer up:

1. Go to www.givemn.org. The organization’s tech platform also makes giving on a mobile device clean and easy.

2. If you are a new user, create an account. It keeps all of your giving history in one place, including tax receipts.

3. To find a particular cause, go to “Find a Cause” on the top of the page; the website allows searching by category, location or keyword.

4. Givemn.org will maintain a leader board for organizations that are raising the most money. Keep a close eye on what matching funds and other giveaways are available.

5. If you have questions, go here.

Semi-related: Wells Fargo is getting even bigger than US Bank. At the Business Journal, Jim Hammerand writes, “Wells Fargo & Co. expanded its Minnesota market share year-over-year while the other leading banks in the state lost ground. That’s according to statewide deposit figures from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which show total bank deposits in Minnesota grew by 20 percent to nearly $254.9 billion as of the end of June. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) grabbed the biggest chunk of that growth, increasing its Minnesota deposits by 38 percent to $128.4 billion and upping its market share from 44 percent to 50 percent.”

The Grain Belt beer sign on Nicollet Island, which seems strangely familiar for some reason, is coming back to life. At MPR, Jon Collins says, “August Schell Brewing Company is buying the iconic Minneapolis bottle cap sign on Nicollet Island, aiming to refurbish and preserve it. The New Ulm-based brewery, which makes Grain Belt Beer, plans to work with preservationists to relight the sign, which has been dark for nearly two decades. It spells out Grain Belt Beer through 900 feet of neon tubes about 50 feet wide and 40 feet tall. … The brewery said in a statement that after the deal closes it will donate the sign to the Preservation Alliance of Minneapolis if the sign still works.”

The fall’s most colorful candidate, Michelle MacDonald, will be paying her debt to society. Says Emma Nelson in the Strib, “Michelle MacDonald, the former Minnesota Supreme Court candidate convicted on DWI charges in September, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days of electronic home monitoring and two years’ probation. She must also attend a safe driving course and pay a $350 fine, according to sentencing documents from Dakota County District Judge Leslie Metzen.” And please remember, she still got 47 percent of the vote against David Lillehaug.

Speaking of courts … . The brawl between the city of Duluth and the Fond-du-Luth Casino isn’t over yet. Tom Olsen of the Forum News Service says, “Attorneys for the city of Duluth and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa this week lamented the resources that have been poured into a five-year struggle over casino profits and said they hoped a resolution could bring an end to the prolonged battle. But with no agreement on the horizon, the parties are set to once again ask the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether the band is responsible for paying the city more than $10 million in profits from the Fond-du-Luth Casino.”

If you’re at least trying to sound hip, check out City Pages’ annual list of the local scene’s best musical acts. Reed Fischer writes, “For the third year running, a Twin Cities rap act tops the poll of critics, promoters, fans, and general scene know-it-alls we call Picked to Click. This field features budding stars from both sides of the Mississippi, an age range of nearly half a century, genres that haven’t even been invented yet, and a few gratuitous crotch shots. In all, our voters depict a current local music climate that’s fertile with change and possibility. … 1. Allan Kingdom –– 79 points. We’re way past the introductions for Allan Kingdom. By the time the 20-year-old based in St. Paul emerged from the online cloud about a year ago, the rapper with an alluring singing voice already had dozens of songs to his name. Since then, his pace hasn’t slackened. …”

Probably not a lot of crossover from Garth Brooks, I’m guessing.



Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/12/2014 - 09:54 pm.

    Wouldn’t HOW Many Be a Vital Piece of Information?

    “…the state Department of Human Services has failed to adequately verify the eligibility of people who enroll in public health care programs through the state’s health insurance exchange MNsure.”

    But I haven’t heard any quantification of this anywhere.

    If you think the private sector gets such things 100% correct, you’ve never worked for a private company doing similar work.

    The private sector generally uses targets for how many mistakes are allowed, because the cost of getting things such as this 100% correct far outweighs any savings that might be accomplished by such correctness.

    Are we honestly expecting that the public sector should OUTDO the private sector in this kind of work by doing the kind of “penny wise, pound foolish” things that the private sector has long since decided are not worth the time, effort and personnel to accomplish because the savings are negligible if not noexistent?

    • Submitted by Tom Clark on 11/13/2014 - 06:50 am.

      How many?

      From Minnesota Public Radio:

      “The Department of Human Services unnecessarily paid for $44,993 of health care benefits because 24 people who enrolled through MNsure had duplicate accounts in the state’s health care programs.”

      -and-

      “Nearly 17 percent of the people in records sampled by the auditor were not eligible for the public health care program in which they were enrolled.”

      So the audit turned up some problems that need addressing, but it’s not a big deal.

      More here:

      http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/11/12/mnsure-audit-results

  2. Submitted by E Gamauf on 11/13/2014 - 05:55 am.

    Casino Brawling on the Streets of Duluth

    Duluth wanted to up the ante – by having the state constitution amended
    to allow them to build their own casino, correct?

    Now its in “lamenting mode” because the road repair bills remain and they haven’t got their state approved casino.

    Maybe the casinos need to be on major interchanges to take advantage of people just passing through and not in Duluth at all: If you drive southern states, along I-40, there are stretches that have casinos nearly every other interchange, or so it appears. I’ve even seen an inflatable casino.

    I can’t characterize whether the I-40 casinos are state-run, native american casinos (which non-natives railed about when those first came to Minnesota), or maybe they are a blend of the two – with the state supporting native casinos & skimming.

    When the native casinos opened up, they were a boon to a demographic that was not faring well and had few assets besides their sovereign status. Its an old story: Now that casinos are a profitable operation to varying degrees – every city or village wants one.

    Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem like a good core funding model for city or state governments.
    Can’t we just give Duluth a stadium?

    They need to make the “Duluth Brawl” a pay-per-view cage match.

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