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GAMC compromise reached

Published (3/11/2010)
By Lauren Radomski
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Rep. Erin Murphy, right, listens as Sen. Linda Berglin explains a new proposal during an informational GAMC hearing March 4. (Photo by Tom Olmscheid)The bill detailing a compromise on General Assistance Medical Care has received committee approval and could be on the House floor as soon as next week.

HF802 reflects an agreement by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders on how to provide basic health care services for more than 70,000 low-income adults, many of whom have chronic mental health problems. An earlier bill passed by the House and Senate was vetoed by the governor, who proposed auto-enrolling current GAMC participants into MinnesotaCare.

Sponsored by Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), the compromise bill would preserve GAMC in its current form until June 1, at which time the program would operate through a “coordinated care delivery system” of 17 major hospitals partnering to serve the GAMC population. Hospitals with fewer GAMC patients would receive funding for six months as they decide whether or not to form similar systems.

The program is estimated at $164 million for the current biennium, about $117 million less than the original proposal.

Speaking to the House Health Care and Human Services Finance Division March 11, Murphy called the program “significantly underfunded.” The compromise bill is better than no solution at all, she said, but state officials and providers will need to carefully monitor whether GAMC enrollees receive the care they need. Murphy, who has worked on a GAMC solution since last summer, was emotional as she described what the legislation means for those “living in the shadows.”

“We have affirmed that they have a place in Minnesota and that we’re not going to abandon them,” she said.

Officials representing hospitals and clinics thanked legislators for their work, but reiterated that the proposal is far from perfect.

Murphy’s bill was approved and sent to the House Finance Committee. A companion, SF460, sponsored by Sen. Linda Berglin (DFL-Mpls), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

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