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Late Friday afternoon, DFL legislators announced that they were successful in negotiating a deal that saves the General Assistance Medical Care program and maintains health coverage for over 70,000 adults, thousands of whom are veterans.
“This plan maintains coverage for some of our sickest and most vulnerable Minnesotans," commented Sen. Berglin. “While I wish we could have done more, I am very pleased that we reached a deal that will sustain the program and preserve prescription coverage for this population, many of whom depend upon medications to treat their illness.”
The Legislature will begin to hold hearings on the bill as early as Wednesday next week and it is likely a bill will reach the Governor’s desk before April 1.
“This agreement maintains our priority to care for Minnesotans in need,” said Representative Murphy. “Those relying on GAMC can rest assured that their health insurance coverage will not disappear on April 1.”
“With this deal, Minnesotans on GAMC can still get the treatment they need when they are sick or injured, 40,000 working Minnesotans will keep their health care, and payments to hospitals have been maintained,” said Huntley. “That being said, I compare this compromise to triage – we’ve kept the patient alive, but much more work needs to be done to make him well.”
The proposal agreed upon by legislative leaders and the Governor’s office ends the auto-enrollment process in which counties were directed to enroll all GAMC recipients into MinnesotaCare. Auto-enrollment was projected to cost twice as much as the original proposal that was passed on a broad bi-partisan basis, but vetoed by the Governor. It also would have bankrupted the MinnesotaCare program, causing 20,000 working single adults to lose their coverage. GAMC in its current form will continue until June 1st, at which time the program will operate through block grant payments to hospitals for their services to GAMC patients. These payments to hospitals will be significantly less than they have been in the past, but represent a recouping of uncompensated care costs they would have suffered under the Governor’s auto-enrollment plan. Hospitals will contract to provide outpatient services.
Drug coverage will also be maintained for recipients, the majority of whom are mentally ill or suffer from chronic diseases and depend upon prescriptions to manage their illnesses. The program is projected to cost $164 million for the current biennium and $214 million in FY 2012-2013.
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