Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson came under fire Wednesday before a Republican-led House panel investigating alleged oversight lapses in the state’s Medicaid system for the poor and disabled.
Facing questions from GOP lawmakers, including Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann, Jesson was called on to explain how the state handled a $30 million windfall from UCare, one of four contractors that administer Medicaid programs for the state.
The hearing before Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was ostensibly called to examine potential Medicaid fraud across the nation, but it also served to put Minnesota’s vaunted public health care system on trial.
Despite bipartisan calls for reform, the hearing took on strong political overtones, with Jesson and Democratic members of the Minnesota House delegation arguing that questions now being raised in Congress are rooted in deals cut by the previous Republican administration of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the predecessor of DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
“There were specific areas of concern Governor Dayton and I had regarding how the Minnesota Department of Human Services, under the previous administration, purchased health care for its Medicaid managed care program,” Jesson testified.
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