At the end of this past legislative session, Governor Pawlenty vetoed funding for General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), which provides health care to 70,000 (about 35,000 in any given month) of the poorest and sickest Minnesotans each year. Recipients on GAMC earn less than $7,500 per year and about 80% of those served have serious mental health issues. GAMC funding is set to expire on March 1, 2010.
Since session adjourned, we have been working on a solution that will preserve basic health care for the most vulnerable Minnesotans. In July, Health Policy committee members visited nine safety net hospitals all over the state to hear about the need to continue providing basic health care benefits to this medically needy population. Since August, we have held meetings with hospitals, health plans, providers, unions, counties, representatives of the faith community, safety net organizations, grass roots organizations, mental health advocates, and many others to discuss policy and financing alternatives for GAMC.
After a lot of listening, we are moving forward with our proposal to temporarily restore GAMC for 16 months in order to build a bridge to national health care reform. Temporary GAMC will offer access to basic care for those currently enrolled, protect vital health care jobs, and restore the solvency of the Health Care Access Fund through 2012. Funded entirely without new taxes, the solution relies largely on cost saving reforms, maximizing existing state and federal health care funding streams, and reduced provider reimbursement rates to pay for a pared down GAMC.
You can view our proposal online: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/committee.asp?comm=86118.
This plan is not perfect, and there are issues we need to continue working on, but inaction is not an option. In the coming weeks before session, we will continue to work collaboratively with health care stakeholders as well as with the Governor and Republicans on a bipartisan solution that is in the best interest of all Minnesotans.
This morning, Lori Sturdavent writes about the session ahead and its challenges. Read it here http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentary/79092092.html?elr=KArksc8P:Pc:UthPacyPE7iUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr
Next step in this process will come on Monday, December 14th when we hold a public hearing to discuss various GAMC proposals. As always, I look forward to your input and perspective.
Posted on Sunday, December 13, 2009 by Erin Murphy,