Bachmann will sponsor legislation on Medicaid spending oversight

At state level, Sen. Nienow has already authored bill

T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter

Sixth District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, at her first press conference since announcing her intentions to seek a fourth term said she would introduce legislation to provide more stringent oversight of Medicaid spending.

“We are not here today accusing any of the HMOs, nor are we accusing the State of Minnesota of doing anything wrong — we just don’t know,” she said.

“We need to be united, both Democrats and Republicans,” Bachmann said of scrutinizing federal Medicaid payments.

Other Republicans agreed.

“This is a bipartisan issue,” said Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo.

The closer scrutiny Bachmann, Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, and other Republicans called for stems from a federal investigation into the state’s handling of Medicaid funding.

The Dayton Administration recently announced their intention to hire a third-party auditor to investigate the Medicaid program.

Nienow has introduced legislation he believes will increase transparency and accountability in how federal Medicaid dollars are spent — Bachmann credits her awareness of the issue to Nienow’s keen focus.

“We need transparency, we need accountability,” Nienow said.

In his legislation, Nienow calls for an annual third-party audit of HMOs in Minnesota, the release of needed HMO data, and a prohibition on the use of any accounting firm by the state that also does accounting services for HMOs.

For an accounting firm to work for both entities is a clear conflict of interest, Nienow argues.

“What we’re getting is a lot of data and not a lot of information,” said Benson, an accountant, of current HMO audits.

Although Bachmann said her legislation would be somewhat different than Nienow’s, the thrust would be the same. “That’s what I want to do on the federal level — get it right,” she said.

Bachmann suggested that if a problem exists with Medicaid in Minnesota, it’s likely similar problems exist in other states.

Although the Republicans insisted they wanted to work with Democrats, no Democrats appeared at the Capitol press conference.

Nienow said the idea for the press conference came over the weekend when Bachmann contacted him about the issue.

Both Nienow and Bachmann repeatedly used the term “ObamaCare” at the press conference in describing the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a term many Democrats find derogatory.

Bachmann refused to take questions regarding her recent decision to seek a fourth term, but the former presidential candidate indicated a willingness to meet with reporters and discuss her candidacy soon.

No Democrat has yet announced their intention of challenging Bachmann.

Court drawn redistricting maps are expected to be released on Tuesday afternoon.

The 6th District, which has seen considerable growth in population over the past decade, could be markedly changed in the court’s redistricting plan.