Monthly Archives: December 2015

Comments Off on Lovaas Midwest is Fined almost 3 Million Dollars by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Alright – so, unless you live under a rock, don’t have a child with autism, don’t work in the field of autism, etc. then you heard of Lovaas autism clinic. Let’s give a brief history. Dr. Ivar Lovaas, a researcher from UCLA did an autism study on 19 kids in 1987. He found that 47% entered mainstream kinder garden without any special education assistance. This study was repeated four years later and most of those 47% kept their gains. Lovaas used discrete trial teaching (DTT) which has been widely researched and is found to be one of the most effective methods of applied behavior analysis (ABA). As a result of this significant study, Lovaas is often called “the father of ABA”.

There is Lovaas West Coast where Dr. Lovaas started, now led by Scott Wright, Lovaas East Coast led by his wife Linda Wright and Lovaas Midwest in Minneapolis led by their friend Dr. Larsson. Then there is Lovaas Center. in Nevada led by Dr. Lovaas’ son Eric Lovaas which has no connection to Lovaas East, West or Midwest. It can sound confusing, but really it is not.

Dr. Larsson who heads Lovaas Midwest in Minneapolis used to work at Minnesota Autism Center (MAC) back when they were Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT). Under his care is when MAC overbilled Medicaid for autism services over three million dollars and was fined to pay back $600,000. From what I understand Ron Carey fired Larsson in some hallway. Larsson then stole most of MAC’s employees and MAC sued him winning that lawsuit.

To make a long soap opera autism story in Minnesota short, Dr. Larsson continued his ways of overbilling and simultaneous billing when he started Lovaas Midwest. He kept doing this for years despite the state Medicaid agency telling him to not do it. Finally, the state Medicaid agency (under Gov Pawlenty) made a bad deal with Larsson and told him via courts in the case of Huisenga vs. MN State Medicaid agency that they won’t ask back any overpaid funds but he could no longer bill for simultaneous services.

Then CMS audited Lovaas Midwest and found overbilling stating while the state might have a deal with Larsson, the federal government which pays half of the funds will not. Thus, Lovaas was fined by CMS to pay back $2,862,769. Personally, I am not a big fan of Lovaas Midwest nor Dr. Larsson as I think they have bias policies in their clinic, and I am glad someone finally stood up to him and Lovaas.

Below is what CMS said in their outcome.

The provider was wrongly paid for having multiple mental health professionals at the same time for the same child which is not allowed by Medicaid guidelines. Provider was paid for travel time for unrelated services, Provider was paid for services without any child/parent present or non-direct services meaning the child and/or parents were not present as it is stated in Minnesota Statute 256B.0943 Subd. 11, the list is long but you get the point.

Lovaas Midwest is directed to;

Submit payment to the State of Minnesota for $2,862,769, the amount owed to Medicaid. The commissioner will seek recovery from a vendor. The commissioner is authorized to calculate the amount of monetary recovery based on estimation from systematic random samples of claims submitted and paid. The commissioner will recover money by the following means:  Permitting voluntary repayment of money, either in lump sum payment or installment payments; • Deducting or withholding from MHCP payments; • Withholding payments to a provider under the Code of Federal Regulations, title 42, section 447.31.

Where is the outrage or relief from DHS and the welcoming media that reports relentlessly when Somali child care centers sneeze the wrong way or any provider of color does anything wrong? Racial disparity is not just access to health care, it is also how different providers are treated. Anglo providers are given second and third chances, they are able to negotiate or appeal decisions. For minority owned providers – don’t even think about it is the answer.

Above words do not represent any committee, candidate or agency.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate


Category: Autism Policy

New DHS Commissioner – Toddler in Training

Comments Off on New DHS Commissioner – Toddler in Training

Alright – so, Governor Dayton hired a new commissioner for Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Emily Johnson Piper. Ms. Johnson Piper has zip, zero, zilch, zippity human services experience. Oh – and she is closer to a toddler in age.

Why you ask would Dayton hire someone with no experience in this agency that oversees the state’s most vulnerable population? Well – one name, Tina Smith. Or as I like to call her “heartless hammer Smith”. You see Smith is Dayton’s Lt. Governor. She was his chief of staff before and Mayor RT’s chief of staff in Minneapolis before that. Smith is very smart and a calculating politician that rewards her friends very well. Ms. Johnson Piper was her general counsel before DHS. She was not there for a long time and was hired after Micah Hines’ departure. Micah was an African American and I can’t even imagine Dayton hiring Micah to lead DHS. That would be insane for a person of color to be given such opportunity.

On the other hand, for an Anglo Minnesotan with zero experience – well then it is ok. And they tell us there is no racism in this state. Please, stop living under a rock.

In my minute and half of advocating autism issues, I have seen so many Anglo Minnesotans hired in positions they did not qualify for. Dan Pollock is another example who is number two at the state health department. Mr. Pollock has been given so many opportunities that might make your head spin. I have even seen DHS and MDH create positions for Anglo folks they like. Meanwhile, employees of color are told “you don’t qualify, you are not the right person, the right fit, we don’t have the budget, yada and more BS yada”.

Ms. Johnson Piper’s claim to experience is that her mother is a city council member in Minneapolis. That is basically it. When asked about her new position, Ms. Johnson Piper replied “I am going to tour the state and talk to stake-holders”. Great, because that is what we need more talking from someone who has no clue about human services. In other words, while she is on a learning tour, folks with disabilities including autism, the poor and the elderly will just have to suffer and wait for her to gain some useful experience.

If anyone understands Minnesota politics – then they will understand Dayton asked Smith her thoughts and she is the one that recommended Johnson Piper. Heck, Dayton wasn’t even there during the announcement.

Sight of good news – MN House Minority Rep Thissen suggested to break up DHS as it is too big for one person to handle which is probably his Minnesota nice way of saying “this new commissioner can’t possibly handle all of DHS’ issues”. On the other hand, even the U.S has one HHS department and within that there are agencies such as CMS, HRSA, etc. Majority of other states also have one HHS and agencies under that control each area. In other words, one area within HHS as Thissen suggested does not necessarily have to be similar to another area.

My friendly advice for anyone of color who voted for Dayton/Smith is when will you learn that all our votes are good for is pandering words and nothing more. Take a look at Dayton’s advisers and staff. The few folks of color they have including the one Somali are ……wait for it…..constituent coordinators. This is called Anglo Privilege which no one is fighting against, but everyone wants to eliminate affirmative action. Nice!

When will we learn to use our votes as a bargaining chip.

Above words do not represent any candidate, committee or agency.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Comments Off on GOP Presidential Candidate Ben Carson hires Ron Carey to help him with MN Voters

Alright – so, if you follow politics in Minnesota or nationwide then you heard that Ron Carey has been hired by Ben Carson for his Minnesota campaign. Mr. Carey runs the fake MAC school which lies to families by telling them it is a public school, then tells the state education department it is a private school then tells the state Medicaid agency it is an ABA center. All of this happens because DHS has no oversight or accountability for CTSS providers.

Well – this honest guy is now going to help Carson get some votes in Minnesota. Carson might’ve had better luck hiring Mr. Grinch. I wonder if Mr. Carey will now leave his post at the autism fake MAC school. Or will he still collect his six figure salary from the state Medicaid agency. My guess is no reporter will ask him that.

Remember the song about Mr. Grinch that says “you are as charming as an eel, Your heart is an empty hole” When I think of what Mr. Carey has done to autism children and families – I think of the song lyrics of Mr. Grinch.

I am not a fan of Carson as a politician. I don’t think he understands political policies at all. Don’t get me wrong, he has gifted hands and was a brilliant surgeon but politics are a whole different beast. Hiring Carey can’t help him. If you remember, Michelle Bachmann also hired Carey. How did that work out for her

If history is a good indicator – it won’t work out for Carson either. I am certain Carey can’t bring winning votes for Carson in Minnesota.

Above words do not represent any committee, agency or candidate.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Comments Off on MN DHS Commissioner Moves on up to be a MN Judge – Congrats to her!

Alright-so, Minnesota department of human services, (DHS) also known as the state Medicaid agency is the state’s largest agency in Minnesota. Lucinda Jesson has been in charge of this agency for the past five years ever since she was hired by Governor Dayton back in 2010. DHS overseas the state’s elderly, the poor and individuals with disabilities including autism. Jesson is moving on up to be a judge and has been appointed by Governor Dayton. The governor has increased diversity on the bench. Jesson replaces Hudson whom Dayton appointed to the state’s Supreme Court, his second Black appointee. Well – how nice, maybe Dayton is coming around in diversity. Minnesota judges don’t represent the state’s diverse population which is sad and is a main source for the unequal justice system.

I have been barking on Jesson’s ears since her first week on the job. In fact, when I heard she was going to the state senate back in 2010 – I went there to make sure she was asked about autism. I wanted autism to be on her radar constantly. Sen Berglin whom I miss very much asked her about autism and Jesson replied “this is my 4th day on the job, but I will look into it”. Jesson has not only looked into autism, but she has changed the landscape of it. Commissioner Jesson has been a champion for children with autism and their families. It is because of her heavy hand, that Governor Dayton and the state legislature approved millions for the new autism benefit we now have in Minnesota. In addition, Jesson added the autism website that is coming soon, created an autism team and added the diversity training for autism providers that is now required for all autism clinics in Minnesota.

In my humble little opinion, Commissioner Jesson has been one of my favorite state agency leaders. She has this amazing ability of separating the issue from the person. For example, no matter how I advocated which is usually in your face – East Coast, I ain’t trying to be your BFF personality, Jesson never took it personally. She always looked at the core of the issue being raised and not who said it or how it was said. In fact, many people are always mad at DHS for something or another, yet Jesson was always cool, calm and collected. She even has a sense of humor. Couple of sessions ago or so, Jesson was testifying in HHS conference committee’s last week. This is when all the i’s and t’s are being done to every policy and law that comes out of the state legislature which makes most people nervous and on edge.

At any rate, Jesson was called by Rep Liebling and as she is walking to sit down, the committees’ staff also walked in and folks in the room started cheering and clapping. You see, the staff are often overwhelmed and overworked during the end of the session and have to be in multiple committees that sometimes happen at the same-time. Jesson put her sense of humor hat on and said “Madam Chair – I realize that cheer is not for me, but for the committee staff”. I don’t know how she did it, but she seemed to know everything that went on at this huge agency that had billions to manage and thousands of people to serve. I don’t even know how she found time for my kazillian autism questions.

Commissioner Jesson, I wish you well and I am sure thousands of Minnesota’s autism children and families will greatly benefit from your autism policies and the roots you planted in DHS. We appreciate all of your work and wish you all the best in your next chapter in life. I am sure you will make a great judge. You certainly have the qualifications and the qualities.

Congratulations and good luck!

Above words do not represent any agency, committee or candidate.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate