Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Ailene Croup
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

County to appeal state's decision to deny UCare


Pine County submitted an appeal to the state of Minnesota for reconsideration of its decision to deny UCare as a county provider.

The county has been using UCare as one of its providers for the prepaid medical assistance program and for its Minnesota Care option.

Human Services Director Becky Foss told the board at last month’s regular meeting that they went through a ranking process, at the state’s request, for providers who submitted proposals to the county. The state also requested the county develop a “scoring team” to rank the proposals.

UCare, which has provided health care coverage for the county’s medical assistance programs since January 2014, was the top choice when the selection process was complete.

The county received notice on July 28 from the state Department of Human Services (DHS), saying they chose Blue Plus and Health Partners for the county’s public program enrollees.

In a letter sent by email to Minnesota DHS procurement team, County Administrator David Minke said, “… the county’s lengthy and thoughtful selection process appears to be disregarded by the State in favor of the cheapest, but not the most qualified alternative.”

Commissioner Matt Ludwig said, “Why do they ask us to pick one? We pick it and they don’t let us have it.”

The state’s choice would not save the county money, said Chairman Steve Hallan. He has sent an email to Sen. Tony Lourey to see why the state responded this way.

Foss said UCare covers more, which is really important for Pine County.

She told the Hinckley News questions to providers were developed regionally because delivery of health care services to Pine County is much different than those of the metropolitan area.

The poverty level in the county is high and many of those receiving the services live far from medical facilities. She’s hoping other health care providers will step up to the needs of the county’s clientele.

County commissioners voted unanimously to send the request for reconsideration of UCare to the DHS.

Foss said the appeal will go to a mediation panel, which is being set up, though there’s no date yet. She added that recipients of the county’s programs will still have health care. It’s just going to change some things.


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