This issue page used to be called "childcare fraud" since that breaking story caught everybody's attention, including ours. But it turns out to be just one piece of the story that is the disastrous waste of money that is Minnesota HHS. Not even just DHS. The Health Department has also been implicated in gross wrongdoing, lack of accountability, and oversight. It has served nobody; the vulnerable, the young, the old --anybody who relies on that social safety net. It has served the taxpayer poorly by allowing criminals of all kinds to grift and steal money from state and federal funds. There are various theories about what to do about it. Senator Michelle Benson, Chair of the HHS Finance Committee has suggested in a recent podcast that HHS could be broken up. The segments might include DHS, Inspector General, and Health Department areas. Others have suggested a separate agency for child protective services. Whatever happens, we must not allow this situation to simply grow the amount of government, as if that is the solution to the problem. More government is never the solution. More accountability, transparency, and checks on this system are the solution. In fact, with what we know about how much is being stolen, we could be spending at least a billion dollars less on what we are getting now. That's a billion in state AND federal money.
Before we do that, it's important to take a wider look at the problems at HHS. Here is a timeline we've developed that reviews the recent firings and resignations and goes back farther, not just to the Dayton Administration but to the end of the Pawlenty administration. Three governors and both parties have not been able to organize this critical area, in a way that prevents thieving, cheating, and fraud on a massive scale. Nor have they protected the most vulnerable from harm.
click here for a timeline of HHS failures, with clickable links to past stories.