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Nobles County Set to Request Mediation over Health Plan Dispute

Wednesday, August, 14, 2019

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has rejected the attempt by Nobles County to provide a single health care plan to residents receiving medical assistance. Now, the issue will head to mediation as approved by a vote by leading commissions.


Nobles is one of two dozen counties in Greater Minnesota that bought into PrimeWest Health. PrimeWest is a county-based purchasing program that provides a variety of health-oriented services to residents as long as they qualify for financial assistance. The cost of participating in PrimeWest was $1.87 million.


According to Nobles County Community Services Director Stacie Golombiecki, the county was notified by the Department of Health Services during the fall of 2018 that the county would be joining PrimeWest. Minnesota statute allowed for counties to opt for county-based purchasing, but according to Golombiecki that statute was ignored.


Instead, DHS provided to the county four different health plans that were designed to serve the adults in the program. The group includes seniors and disabled persons. There were two additional plans for children and families offered.


According to Golombiecki, the different plan options create burdens for her staff and are not even able to adequately serve residents. She claimed that offering the plans would be detrimental to PrimeWest’s success.


Nobles County, as well as representatives from all 24 counties involved, collectively agreed to request mediation. According to Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz, “My legal opinion is that … we need to challenge this by appealing it and we need to join with other counties.”


If approved, mediation sessions will occur over a period of four days throughout September and a ruling would be required by the end of the month.