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The Latest: Minnesota tribe disputes overbilling claim

August 1, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Latest on Minnesota Department of Human Services overpaying two American Indian Tribes by $25 million (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

A Minnesota American Indian tribe is disputing that the state Department of Human Services overpaid the tribe millions of dollars.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe responded Thursday to reports that the agency overpaid the band and the White Earth Nation by more than $25 million for substance abuse treatments covered by Medicaid.

The Leech Lake band says it “steadfastly refutes these allegations that it was overpaid” about $13 million and asserts that all billing it submitted to Human Services was done in accordance with the band’s billing agreement.

White Earth vice chairman Eugene “Umsy” Tibbetts said in a statement to the St. Paul Pioneer Press that his tribe will honor the state’s claim for $11 million in overbilled funds “so long as it is proven.” But Tibbetts says the state shares responsibility.

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1:55 p.m.

New revelations about overpayments to two American Indian tribes are bringing more scrutiny to Minnesota’s Department of Human Services.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Thursday the department overpaid the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the White Earth Nation by $25.3 million for substance abuse treatments covered by Medicaid. The newspaper cited internal memos.

The $25.3 million in overpayments is a preliminary estimate. The memo does not explain how it happened.

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz says the overpayments occurred over the past five years, before he took office in January. Walz says the payment structure was corrected in May.

Legislative Auditor James Nobles says he is launching an investigation into the overpayments.

The Human Services Department has been hit by turmoil, with Commissioner Tony Lourey abruptly resigning last month.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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