Whistleblower gets threatened by MN Dept. of Human Services

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It’s getting pretty disgusting within Minnesota’s Department of Human Services. A whistleblower was allegedly threatened by “a DHS employee then telephoned her last week to warn against testifying, even though she had taken a vacation day to speak to senators who are looking into wrongdoing at Minnesota’s biggest state agency. ‘The way that information was presented to me wasn’t threatening,’ Bernstein said. ‘However, the content, the words — saying that I could be discharged for this — that is threatening.'”

Things aren’t getting fixed, either, according to this article. According to the Pi-Press article, “the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said DHS used federal money to pay for treatment services at “institutions for mental diseases.” These institutions include hospitals, nursing homes or other facilities that have more than 16 beds and treat people with mental illness or chemical dependency. Federal Medicaid money generally cannot be used to cover treatment in these institutions.”

Then there’s this:

Minnesota will be on the hook for this amount plus another $25.3 million that DHS overpaid to two Native American tribes for substance abuse treatment covered under Medicaid. DHS wants the Indian bands to pay back the $25 million even though tribal leaders have produced emails in which the agency appeared to tell them to bill at a rate that caused the overpayments.

Do these people do anything right? The documented incompetence is stunning. Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jim Nobles, Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor, “has launched an investigation of the overpayment issue. He told senators Tuesday that it would be a lengthy process.”

Nobles told legislators that “We cannot audit our way to good government.” Knowing Nobles’ well-documented habit for understatement, that’s a major slap in the face for DHS. That’s Nobles’ way of saying there’s a need for competence that isn’t there currently.

Still, threatening a whistleblower isn’t the type of thing that DHS should be doing. That’s far outside the lines of what’s allowed.

What could possibly go wrong?

Wheelock, who took charge of the agency in July after several top officials resigned, said an investigation against former Inspector General Carolyn Ham could wrap up soon. But she could not name the outside law firm conducting the investigation, how much the contract was worth, or why Ham was under investigation.

How is the public supposed to have confidence in an investigation that’s confidential? Further, why should the public trust an investigation that’s conducted by a law firm that’s being kept confidential? Finally, why should anyone trust an investigation whose cost isn’t made public? DHS hasn’t banked much in the way of trust lately, with lately being defined in this instance as ‘anytime within the last 5-7 years of DFL control’.

I’d argue that these DFL employees are a rerun of the Keystone Cops if it wasn’t such an insult to the Keystone Cops.