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Bachmann, state lawmakers want Medicaid audit

ST. PAUL -- U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann hosted a Minnesota Capitol news conference Monday for the first time since she ended her presidential campaign to support a state effort to increase health-care organizations' accountability.

The Minnesota Republican said she plans to introduce a federal bill similar to one recently introduced at the state level to require independent audits of health maintenance organizations.

The push began last week when Minnesota lawmakers heard that one HMO returned $30 million it said the state overpaid. That left questions of whether other insurers also may have received too much government money.

Bachmann and state lawmakers said they are not accusing HMOs of doing anything wrong.

"A lack of oversight creates a climate of complacency," Bachmann said.

Bills are needed on the state and federal levels, lawmakers said.

"This is about transparency and accountability," state Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Lake Elmo, said.

State Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, said the state does receive reports from HMOs.

"What we are getting is a lot of data, but not much information," she said.

A bill authored by state Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, with Democratic and Republican support, requires an independent audit of federal Medicaid funds given to the state. The Minnesota Medicaid program is known as Medical Assistance.

Bachmann said that even as she was traveling the country campaigning she had never heard of a Medicaid accountability problem. She said her staff is in the initial process of investigating, but she plans to follow Nienow's lead and introduce a federal version of his proposal.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.