Regional human services redesign could initially save more than $30 millionBased upon a project model that was recently unveiled, 12 southeastern Minnesota counties could stand to collectively save $30 million within the first five years of offering joint human services.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Based upon a project model that was recently unveiled, 12 southeastern Minnesota counties could stand to collectively save $30 million within the first five years of offering joint human services.
At a meeting Thursday in Rochester, area county officials and employees gathered for the reveal of a human services delivery model that was created by Accenture, a global management consulting and technology services company. The model is the most recent step in the efforts of a dozen counties — Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona — looking for innovative ways to offer high-quality public services at a reduced cost.
“The fact is, from the standpoint of cost and delivery of services, the current path is unsustainable,” Accenture principal investigator Mark Howard said.
As federal and state contributions to county-based human services programs continue to drop, lower levels of government are faced with providing the same level of services with fewer dollars. Since state and federal funding has diminished, the regional redesign is ready to diminish state and federal control as well.
“The redesign project will help assure regional control of human services, rather than susceptibility to the funding decisions of St. Paul and Washington like what the region faces today,” Howard explained.
According to Accenture, by following the most recent suggested model the 12-county region could reduce its future human services costs by nearly $30 million over five years, a number that amounts to a 7 to 9 percent savings in expenditures over everything else that would be spent in the region.
With federal and state savings included — such as federal and state portions of Medicaid funding — reduced costs could exceed $60 million in those five years, officials said.
It is unknown how much each county would take away, but Goodhue County Commissioner Ted Seifert said he thinks “our share of the 30 million would be a little bit less” than the others as a result of already smooth-running practices here.
“Our operation, we think, is as efficient, if not the most efficient, of the other 11 counties,” said Seifert, who is also the co-chair of a steering committee for the regional redesign.
While counties would see financial benefits under the model, county residents would see much easier access to the services they need. People could attain human services online, by phone and in person, giving the public a chance to reach the services during times that work best into their own schedules.
“You ultimately would be able to do things on your own home computer as far as accessing benefits,” Seifert said.
With nothing set in stone, Seifert said he expects plenty of changes to come to the suggested model.
“It’s just a work in progress,” he said.
Seifert will share details of the model with other Goodhue County officials at a Committee of the Whole meeting and Health and Human Services Board meeting Tuesday morning.
“Between those two meetings we should talk fairly extensively about the redesign.”