KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Minn. Review Finds HMOs Working In Medicaid And State Health Programs Are ‘Generally Sound’

Minnesota Public Radio: State Review Finds HMO Finances Are 'Generally Sound' But Report Raises Questions
A state review finds Minnesota HMOs providing services to public programs such as Medicaid and MinnesotaCare have generally sound financial practices. But the report did raise concerns about the plans' charitable donations and other uses of public dollars. Last March, Gov. Mark Dayton called for a review of how the non-profit health plans were spending the taxpayer money they receive. The government health programs are designed to provide health care coverage for many of the state's poor, vulnerable residents and children. Dayton directed the auditors to look at whether the plans' administrative expenses were appropriate (Stawicki, 12/7).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: State Audits Of Insurance Plans Find Some Issues
Audits of the state's largest health insurance companies found the financial management of taxpayer-supported health plans for low-income Minnesotans is "generally sound," but revealed enough areas of concern to warrant further attention. The audits, released Thursday by the Department of Human Services, found examples where the state was inappropriately billed for lobbying expenses and advertising, and where certain plans donated millions to charitable organizations. Some of the managed care plans also set aside more money in reserves to pay for unpaid claims "than has been historically necessary," according to the state (Crosby, 12/6).

(St. Paul) Pioneer Press: UCare Pays Minnesota Additional $1.57 Million After Profit-Cap Error
Minneapolis-based UCare has paid another $1.57 million to the state to comply with a one-time cap on health plan profits during 2011, according to the state Department of Human Services. The payment was disclosed in an audit of UCare released Thursday, Dec. 6, along with audits of three other HMOs that manage care for patients in the state's public health insurance programs. Overall, the audits found "generally sound" financial management at the health plans, a state official said, but also identified "several issues" including the need for the UCare payment (Snowbeck, 12/6).

Meanwhile, the legislative auditor's office in Minnesota raises another concern.

Minnesota Public Radio: Report: Health Dept. Failed To Monitor Grants, Stop Possible Impropriety
The Minnesota Legislative Auditor's office will broadly review the state Department of Health's administration of grants, after health officials may have allowed thousands of dollars to be inappropriately used by one nonprofit over the last two years. The possible misuse of funds was detailed in a report released Thursday by the auditor's office. The case concerns grants to a St. Paul nonprofit called the Sierra Young Family Institute, Inc. The department of health paid the Sierra Young Family Institute $328,993 in state and federal funds beginning in July 2010 and ending June 30, 2012 to work on reducing health disparities in the black community. This summer, health department staff noticed inconsistencies in the Sierra Young Family Institute's reporting, and asked the Legislative Auditor to investigate (Shenoy, 12/7).

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