4/13/2019 1:56:00 PM Cass County Board: Fewer veterans in county but benefit costs on the rise
MONICA LUNDQUIST Cass County Correspondent
WALKER-Jeff Woodford opened the Health, Human and Veterans Services annual report to Cass County commissioners Tuesday, April 2, by reporting the number of veterans in the county declined 11.7 percent since 2014.
Federal benefit expenditures for the remaining veterans, however, have risen 18 percent in the same period. Woodford attributed the decline in veterans to the fact the average Cass County veteran's age is now 69. World War II veterans are in their 90s. Korean War veterans are in their 80s and Vietnam veterans are in their 60s and 70s.
Woodford said veterans account for 10.2 percent of Cass' population. His office now has records on about 75 percent of the county's vets. That is up from 39 percent when he took over the office in 2013, he said.
Not all qualify for benefits, he said, but having the record enables him to notify a veteran when new benefits become available or the veteran's situation changes. All qualify for a burial amount, he said, so having the record enables him to notify a surviving spouse when the time comes. Veterans Services' transportation program provided 251 rides over roughly 53,000 miles to medical appointments in 2018, he reported.
Cass' veterans services annual budget is about $327,350, Woodford said. For every $1 of the $327,350 spent to run his office, $94 in state and federal veteran benefits are being awarded to or spent on benefits for the county's veterans, $44 of which are for pensions.
Thirty-four percent of Cass' veterans receive monthly federal pensions, Woodford said.
Michele Piprude, HHVS director, presented the health and human services reports. She said Cass meets state requirements for promptly registering people for federal and state assistance services. Cass employees processed applications for benefits more promptly than the state requires, she said.
Cass County processed payments for $108,717,884 in health service bills for people who qualified for state and federal medical assistance in 2018.
Other services for qualified people and the average monthly 2018 benefits are:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for low-income people, $115,
Minnesota Family Investment Program for low-income families and pregnant women, $273,
Diversionary Work Program for families looking for work, $120,
Child Care Assistance for families with low income, $2,455,
General Assistance for adults who have little or no income and can return to work, $273,
Emergency General Assistance for low-income people who need food, shelter or utilities, $306,
Emergency Assistance for low-income people in an emergency who need food, shelter, utilities, $225,
Group Residential Housing pays room and board for people age 65 or older and for disabled age 18 and older or those who are blind who live in authorized settings, $296,
Minnesota Supplemental Aid for adults who are eligible for federal Supplemental Security Income, $97.
The county collects and distributes payments non-custodial parents make to custodial parents for child support. Now those payments can be made electronically from a bank account or through Pay Near Me at CVS pharmacies, 7-Eleven, Family Dollar or Casey's General Store or through MoneyGram at CVS or Walmart.
Cass collected and paid to custodial parents $2,317,432 child support in 2018, which is down from the $2,354,620 collected in 2017. Piprude reported there are 31 ongoing contempt actions in 2018. The county collected $83,145 from the contempt actions.
New in 2018 was a change in how child support is calculated.
Now, child support payments are based on the amount of time the child spends with each parent. This adjustment acknowledges the costs of caring for the child or children during each parent's parenting time, Piprude said.
It is the county's role to locate parents, establish paternity, get orders for payment and to collect and distribute those payments.
Public Health -
Cass has a nurse-family partnership program to help first-time parents succeed. All those who participated in the program are working moms who had their children vaccinated. Eighty percent initiated breastfeeding.
The Women, Infants and Children program served 515 families in 2018. Participants were issued $380,660 worth of food assistance benefits in 2018.
County health services provided child and teen checkups for 4,483 children in 2018.
Under a $26,000 Statewide Health Improvement Program grant, Cass purchased 32 bicycles and a trailer for use in schools and communities. The adjustable bikes can be used for children in fourth through 12th grade.
Public Health - Adults
Cass home health workers drove 49,482 miles in 2018 to provide 232 physical therapy visits, 819 home health aide visits and 1,463 skilled nursing visits to 110 seniors or disabled people in their own homes.
The county's health workers screened 371 clients to determine eligibility for long-term care in 2018. The long-term care unit managed 501 people in 2018.
In addition to health services, the county spent $51,871 to provide volunteers to drive seniors 95,117 miles to medical appointments and to shop for groceries, do banking and for personal errands. The county also spent $72,050 to transport medical assistance clients 132,202 miles to medical and therapy appointments and for work reunification.
The county paid under contracts with Schu-Tran $418,477 and National Home Health Transportation $472,008 to transport Medical Assistance clients on a fee-for-service basis mostly to daily visits to methadone clinics in 2018.
Cass and other Region Five counties contracted in 2018 to have Sourcewell license child day care businesses in the county and to educate their employees.
The county processes state and federal payments made for the 180 developmentally disabled people living in and around the county. Payments for residential, community and vocational services here totaled $9.3 million in 2018, or about $200 per day per client.
Of the 398 adult abuse reports made in 2018, 61 percent were committed by family members and 39 percent by non-family members.
Of those, 123 were for self-neglect, 91 were for caregiver neglect, 63 were for emotional abuse, 50 were for financial exploitation (non-fiduciary), 38 were for physical abuse, 24 were for financial exploitation (fiduciary) and 9% were for sexual abuse.
There were 1,574 intakes in 2018 for alleged child abuse. Of those, 912 were for neglect, 235 were for physical abuse, 166 were for sexual abuse, 185 were for threats of injury and 76 were for mental injury.
Piprude said the county is working toward being able to place more children with relatives rather than in general foster care when they need to be removed from the home for their protection.
Cass County had 101 adult and 72 children's mental health intakes in 2018, plus 209 for chemical dependency. Piprude reported there has been a 47% increase in detoxification treatment cost since 2017.
Persons served included 94 adults with severe persistent mental illness, 50 adult civil commitments for mental health and/or chemical dependency, 161 adults with substance use disorder, six children with substance use disorder and 60 children with severe emotional disturbance.
Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.