The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is intensifying pressure on two Indian bands to repay $25.3 million in Medicaid overpayments, despite mounting evidence that state officials were largely to blame for the billing error.
In letters sent to the Indian bands, acting Human Services Commissioner Pamela Wheelock said the state is legally obligated to collect the excess payments from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and White Earth Nation for addiction treatment services, even if the overpayments were caused by DHS error and were not the fault of the bands.
The official notice has intensified a growing dispute between the administration of Gov. Tim Walz and leaders of the tribal governments, who say they were given misleading guidance by the state over a period of years. Tribal officials have produced more than a dozen e-mails showing that DHS administrators were aware of the billing practices that led to the millions of dollars in overpayments, and even advised the bands on how to create the billing infrastructure.