State spending: Plan for paperwork will cost millions

Published 4:45 am Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Free Press, Mankato

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Minnesota’s new policy of requiring those on Medical Assistance to fill out and send in a new form to verify eligibility looks like a prescription for bureaucratic excesses that will be costly for taxpayers.

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It’s the kind of government inefficiency the some legislators decry as the reason to oppose human service spending. But this bureaucratic nightmare was of the Legislature’s making. These so called “anti-fraud” provisions were included in the health and human services budget finalized in special session budget negotiations last year.

Those provisions required Medical Assistance recipients to provide financial information by mid-September that would indicate they were still eligible for the program.

But the program had a tight timeline and in the end the recipients were given only 10-day grace period if they missed the filing.

And many people on Medical Assistance have mental health problems and other disabilities. They are sometimes out of the communication loop when it comes to getting to their mail and filling out forms.

As a result of the new policy, some 1,300 people who missed the deadline are now without their medications or health care, according to the Department of Human Services.

That will cause them to go to more costly emergency rooms, leaving taxpayers stuck with the bill.

A report in the Star Tribune showed those thrown off their health care for not filling out paperwork were in mental distress, barely able to get through the day without their medications while driving Ubers to make money.

We’re sure there thousands more who will lose their coverage because they forgot to fill out paperwork or they were late.

No one is arguing we should be without policies to guard against fraud. But the new paperwork requirement seems to be overreach, will create health crisis’ for many and will cost taxpayers more in the long run.