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home : cass county news : cass county news
April 16, 2021

3/19/2021 2:17:00 PM
Cass County Board: HHVS Claims Processing Drops in 2020 due to COVID-19
By Kyndra Johnson of the Press-Citizen

BACKUS-Claims processed were showing increasing annual trends but there was a sharp decrease during 2020 due to added COVID-19 concerns and obstacles, Cass County officials reported.

Jeff Woodford, Health, Human and Veterans Services, presented the information during the department's annual report to Cass County commissioners Tuesday, March 16.

The main obstacle veteran services faced was that the National Personnel Records Center was shut down for the past year. This is the department that verifies veterans and helps determine what services each veteran qualifies for.

Woodford also reported the number of veterans in the county declined 11.9% since 2015. Two-thirds of Cass County veterans are 65 years and older and approximately 12% of Cass' population consists of veterans.

Cass' veterans who were negatively affected financially by COVID-19 were eligible for three one-time grants. Those grants are disaster relief in the amount of $1,000; special needs grant up to $3,000 which is paid directly to the vendor on behalf of the veteran; and a distance learning support grant of $3,000. Cass County Veterans Service officers helped distribute a total of $27,000 for disaster relief, $9,000 in distant learning support and $4,774.86 for COVID special needs. Cass County also received funds from the State Soldier Assistance Program in the total amount of $52,050 with $17,275 being used for optical, dental, special needs and subsistence and $34,774.84 going toward COVID-19 related


Woodford said changes were made to the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which offers enhanced clinical support for caregivers of eligible veterans who are seriously injured. To qualify for the program Veterans had to be active on or after September 11, 2001, but the program has now expanded to include those serving on or before May 7, 1975.

Income maintenance

Michele Piprude, Health, Human and Veterans Services (HHVS) director, presented the health and human services reports. She said Cass County meets state requirements for promptly registering people for federal and state assistance services, and Cass employees processed applications for benefits more promptly than the state requires. Due to COVID-19, emergency assistance requests were lower than prior years, she added.

Cass County processed payments for $110,468,506.44 in health service bills for people who qualified for state and federal medical assistance in 2020.

Child Support

The county collects and distributes payments non-custodial parents make to custodial parents for child support. Cass collected $2,678,935 and paid $2,660,159.11 to custodial parents for child support during 2020. Piprude said the majority of child support was collected through income withholding. The county exceeds state performance measures in paternity and establishment, but was slightly below state performance measures on collections. Unemployment was the main factor for the collections, officials reported.

Public Health -

Children, Youth & Families

During 2020 the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grant team and Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) county partners determined, with the assistance from the Minnesota Department of Health, to move from the NFP evidenced-based home visiting program to another evidenced based nurse home

visiting program.

This program began Nov. 1 and is a voluntary program supported by MIECHV grants. The main focus is first-time moms; however, moms who have had several children and who are pregnant or within eight weeks of delivery can be served, allowing for increased eligibility for the program.

The Women, Infants and Children program had an average of 475 participants during 2020. Participants were issued 348,547 worth of food assistance benefits between October of 2019 and September of 2020.

Cass County Public Health was invited to collaborate with the Cass Lake Indian Hospital and Leech Lake Public Health to provide a community drive-thru flu clinic at the Cedar Lakes Casino parking lot to

Tribal and non-Cass Lake Indian Hospital eligible members. This was a first time agreement that proved to be a great partnership

in which over 350 individuals were vaccinated in one day.

Public Health - Home Health, Long Term Care, Prevention

Although 2020 brought unique challenges to home care services, Piprude said home health was still able to conduct 950 skilled nurse visits, 541 home health aide visits, and 78 physical therapy visits for a total of 1,569 home visits.

Mental Health, Chemical Dependancy

Cass County had 369 adult and 52 children's mental health intakes in 2020, with 100 of the adult individuals being screened at the Cass County Jail. Out of the 100 individuals, Cass County pursued commitments on 61 intakes.

Adult/Child Protection

Piprude reported that there were 297 adult maltreatment reports, with the majority of those being self neglect. It was also reported that although child foster care costs are up 35.2% the number of intakes is down from 2019. This change is mainly due to staff

training, awareness, diligence, and teamwork. In 2020 there was a total of 224 child welfare intakes and 480 child protective service intakes, with 68% of those being due to neglect.

Out-of-Home Placement

During 2020 a total of 56 juveniles/children who were screened went into an out-of-home placement for over 30 days, while 11 were discharged and have not returned to placement. Piprude said about half of them were placed into relative foster care, which is the preferred method. The majority of the children were placed outside their own home for neglect, followed by mental health issues, with a few for alcohol/drug abuse and behavior problems.

The majority were over age 16. Almost equal numbers of boys and girls were screened. Most were white, with some being American Indian and a very few were Black.

Licensed Services

Cass County and other Region Five counties contracted to have Sourcewell license child day care businesses in the county and to educate their employees. Michelle Tautges with Sourcewell shared an update with the board stating that currently there are 33 active licensed family child care programs within Cass County. A total of 10 new applications have been filed with six being approved and four in the process.

Tautges recognized Stacy Schlosser as Cass County provider of the year along with other county providers of the year in a short video presentation.

For the complete HHVS Annual report go to

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