April 14, 2013
On March 28, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released 837 pages of documents in response to a FOIA lawsuit that PRM filed in federal court late last year. The documents relate to the 2011 renewal of Minnesota’s Medicaid waiver, as well as to correspondence between Minnesota State Senator John Marty, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is the component of HHS that authorizes the release of federal Medicaid funds to state governments. Minnesota receives these funds under the terms of a waiver that allows deviation from the usual federal Medicaid rules. Such waivers are issued for the purpose of encouraging state experimentation with the delivery of public health care.
Previously, HHS had released two other batches of documents as “interim responses” to PRM’s litigation. These batches included documents which indicated that CMS had added additional program reporting requirements during the run-up to the renewal of Minnesota’s Medicaid waiver. The requirements appear to have been added in response to concerns about public health care program management raised by Minnesota State Senators John Marty and Sean Nienow. Other documents from these batches indicated that Minnesota’s former Medicaid director may have asked CMS personnel to “stop meeting” with this same pair of lawmakers – both of whom had been vocal critics of Minnesota’s management of federal Medicaid funds.
PRM is still evaluating the newest group of documents, but our preliminary review shows that CMS was alerted to program irregularities by not only Senators Marty and Nienow, but also by the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition (GMHCC), a consumer advocacy group. Several reports produced by the organization were included in the March 28 document cache provided by HHS. GMHCC released a public report detailing similar concerns in August of 2012.
We will post a more extensive summary of documents from the third HHS cache soon.