Board seeks meeting with Gov. Walz

NEW ULM — Brown County Commissioners will consider a letter to Gov. Tim Walz Tuesday requesting reconsideration of a recent Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) procurement process decision.

On Aug. 6, commissioners unanimously approved a resolution objecting to the DHS selection of participating health plans, denying Brown County the statutory right to provide health care services under the county-based purchasing authority found in state statute.

On June 25, commissioners passed a resolution supporting a human services and public health recommendation approving South Country Health Alliance (SCHA) as Brown County’s Managed Care Organization (MCO).

In July, the DHS informed SCHA it would not be offered the opportunity to contract for families, children and seniors in any member counties. The DHS has not provided a formal, written reason for denying SCHA a contract opportunity, but alleged in conversation that SCHA failed a readiness review.

An Aug. 20 letter to Walz from Brown County Commissioner David Borchert asks for a meeting with Walz, Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) staff and county-based purchasing counties to resolve the matter.

“Despite our being asked to take the time to review the MCO proposals and recommend the plan(s) we preferred, DHS did not appear to take into consideration our recommendation. This procurement process diminishes our role and preferences in the decision-making process,” read the letter.

“County-based purchasing (CBP) promotes local control, transparency, better coordination and integration of health services, public health, social services, and other community-based services,” continued the letter.

According to the board request, Walz is on record supporting CBP and it is hoped that receiving letters from 30-40 counties will send a message and resolution that will benefit Brown County and other counties served.

Commissioners will also consider:

• Increasing human services out-of-home placement expenditure levels from $950,000 to $1 million in 2020 and revenue at $200,000 from $160,000.

• Approval of a two-year, $178,875 Minnesota Department of Public Safety grant for a full-time truancy officer position to start Oct. 1, 2019 through the Brown County Probation Dept. There is no matching dollar requirement.

• Posting a full-time Brown County Human Services Director with a $94,352 – $115,319 salary range, the next step in the search and recruitment process. Commissioners approved the position salary on July 5. The salary range comes from comparable counties with similar positions.

Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the courthouse commissioner’s room.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.