MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — A couple of months ago, all counties in the State of Minnesota received notice from the Minnesota Department of Human Services that they had made some errors in billing the Federal Government for substance abuse treatment received by people in certain facilities.
“The Federal Government, state government and local government all have a piece in how we provide health care and services to our communities,” explained Phil Claussen, director of Blue Earth County Human Services. “What’s happened is now we are in the business elements where an error was made. The error is not small, it’s not easily correctable and the other element that I would talk about is the time frame. This dates back to 2014.”
That's where it gets complicated.
The billing errors have been happening for about six years and all business years prior to 2020 are now closed.
Blue Earth County is being asked to pay back around $187,000, while Brown County is being asked to pay just over $43,000.
“This was not a billing issue or error that was done on the part of the county, this was an issue and a billing error done by the state,” said Barb Dietz, director of Brown County Human Services. “It has taken the state five years to be able to even notice this error was made, be aware of that and inform us of that.”
At the end of the day, the counties get billed from the state and what state government pays other parties is unknown to local government.
Not only that, but the bills now date back to as far back as 2014.
"It seems a little unfair that in this certain situation even though the state doesn't have to pay vendors beyond 12 months we are being billed back for an expense that is well over a year," added Dietz.
So where do we go from here?
“We’ve been very appreciative of the governor who has been very tuned in with this issue and said that he wants to find a way to hold local government harmless and not have it go to the property tax dollars. Our board is hoping we will be held harmless, so that is our stance. I think the department feels they are obligated to try to correct this error,” said Claussen.
It could be a little bit until the counties know their fate.
There is a good chance this matter gets resolved during the next legislative session.