For more information contact: Michael Howard 651-296-4169
The Minnesota House of Representatives voted 121 to 12 to finalize an agreement to preserve General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) before 70,000 poor and sick Minnesotans lose health care on April 1st. By saving GAMC, the Legislature also preserves health care for 21,000 working Minnesotans on MinnesotaCare by keeping the Health Care Access Fund solvent. State Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL – St. Paul) said that restoring GAMC is a necessary step in the ongoing effort to maintain a quality safety net of care for all Minnesotans.
“Today, we are ensuring that Minnesotans in need will have health insurance coverage on April 1st," said Murphy. “We will continue to seek even better solutions to provide quality health care to Minnesotans at an affordable price.”
Restoring a scaled back GAMC officially ends the Governor’s proposed 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.
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. The program is projected to cost $164 million, significantly less than the $400 million cost before the Governor vetoed GAMC last year. The steep drop will lead to significantly reduced reimbursement rates for Minnesota hospitals who preferred the vetoed legislative solution that originally passed the House on a vote of 125 – 9.
“This isn’t a perfect solution, but for 70,000 Minnesotans who would otherwise lose care it is a necessary solution,” said Murphy. “At the end of the day, we are pleased to have reached an agreement and will continue to seek ways to improve our health care system in Minnesota.”
Recently passed federal health care reform may provide the path to those improvements. GAMC recipients could be covered by Medical Assistance if the Governor approves legislation authored by State Rep. Tom Huntley to position Minnesotans to take full advantage of more than $1 billion in federal health care dollars. Hospital providers favor this approach.
“The world changed when President Obama signed health care reform,” said Huntley. “We are carefully considering how to make sure Minnesotans get the best bang for their buck from the historic legislation.”
After the Minnesota Senate approves changes from the House GAMC bill, the legislation will be sent to the Governor for his final signature.
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