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Legislative Audit Commission Meeting

Minutes

April 12, 2006

Members Present:

Representative Lyndon Carlson Senator David Hann
Representative Sondra Erickson Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Representative Rick Hansen Senator James Metzen
Representative Ruth Johnson Senator Thomas Neuville
Representative Connie Ruth Senator Ann Rest
Representative Tim Wilkin Senator Claire Robling

Members Absent:

Representative Aaron Peterson Senator Richard Cohen
Representative Torrey Westrom Senator Warren Limmer

The Legislative Audit Commission meeting was called to order by Representative Tim Wilkin, Vice Chair, at 9:04 a.m. in Room 112 of the State Capitol.  The purpose of the meeting was to release and review the program evaluation report, Public Health Care Eligibility Determination for Noncitizens, and to approve the new evaluation topics recommended by the Commission’s Topic Selection Subcommittee.

Representative Wilkin recognized Jim Nobles, Legislative Auditor.  Mr. Nobles gave an overview of the scope of the evaluation and then introduced Judy Randall, Project Manager.

Senator Ann Rest arrived and assumed the chair.  At 9:16 a.m. Senator Rest acknowledged that a quorum was present.

Ms. Randall reviewed the major findings of the evaluation, which found that determining eligibility for noncitizens is complicated and prone to errors.  Over 70 percent of the eligibility determination cases reviewed by the OLA contained errors, and 18 percent had errors that affected eligibility for benefits.  The evaluation recommended that the Department of Human Services (DHS) designate a noncitizen eligibility expert to assist county staff, update resources for county social service staff, and increase training for county staff.  In response to a question from Representative Wilkin, Ms. Randall indicated the reason for so many county worker errors was because determining immigration status is very complicated, the workload is very high, and in some counties there is a high level of turnover among staff.

Senator Rest turned the focus of the meeting to the topics recommended by the Topic Selection Subcommittee while a quorum was present.  She asked Senator Claire Robling, chair of the Topic Selection Subcommittee, to give a report.  Senator Robling indicated that the subcommittee had started with 54 topics submitted and were able to narrow the list to 14 or 15 topics.  She indicated they received a good response to the survey that asked legislators to indicate their preferences for evaluation topics.  The subcommittee met and selected eight topics, which they were presenting to the Commission.  Senator Robling then turned to Mr. Nobles to provide additional information.  Mr. Nobles briefly touched on the seven studies that were unanimously approved by the subcommittee, and an eighth study on hospital care for the uninsured that could be conducted by the Department of Health.  Senator Kiscaden called on Scott Leitz from the Department of Health to speak on this last topic and address whether it would be feasible for them to conduct the evaluation.  Mr. Leitz came forward to say that they would be able to complete the study at the department; however, they would need to have legislative language passed in statute in order to conduct the study.  Mr. Nobles suggested the commission leave the topic on the list for approval, but that the OLA would defer to the department if the necessary language passed and the department had the resources to conduct the study. 

Senator Robling made a motion to adopt watershed management, human services administration, prevailing wages, post-employment benefits for public employees, state use of nonprofit organizations to deliver services, volunteer firefighter pension plans, a follow-up study on MnCare and medical assistance eligibility determination, and hospital care for the uninsured.  A voice vote was taken and the motion prevailed.

The focus of the meeting returned to the evaluation report, Public Health Care Eligibility Determination for Noncitizens.  Senator Rest invited Department of Human Services representatives to come forward, including Assistant Commissioner of Health Care, Brian Osberg and the Director of Health Care Eligibility and Access, Kathy Henry.  Mr. Osberg said DHS agreed with the report’s findings and recommendations, saying that the department is very concerned about the high percentage of inaccuracies.  However, DHS does not feel that putting money into the current system is the solution.  DHS and local social service offices are working together to redesign the health care eligibility and enrollment process, which will be implemented in 2007.  Mr. Osberg then introduced Kathy Henry to further discuss the report.  Ms. Henry indicated that most errors found were procedural and did not affect eligibility.  She went on to say that DHS needs a corrective action plan to prevent further discrepancies in eligibility determination for noncitizens.  In response to a question from Representative Johnson, Ms. Henry indicated the department would provide information to the commission members on the total number of denials of eligibility.

With no further business, Senator Rest thanked the representatives of the Department of Human Services and adjourned the meeting at 10:03 a.m.

 

_______________________________________
Senator Ann. H Rest, Chair

_______________________________________
Shelly Watterud, Recording Secretary

 

Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155