Members of the House Health and Humans Services Policy and Oversight Committee, accompanied by area legislators, are visiting hospitals across Minnesota over the next week to discuss alternative ways to meet the needs of Minnesotans currently receiving General Assistance Medical Care. The program disappears in March.
In May 2009, Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed funding for the program that provides health care for more 30,000 recipients.
A meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd. It is estimated that St. Joseph's could lose anywhere between $1.1 million and $2.9 million as a result of the elimination of GAMC according to a statement from House DFL media.
The chair of the panel is Rep. Mark Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.
"I want to be clear, the decision to drop health care for over 30,000 Minnesotans was immoral and unacceptable to the people of Minnesota," Rep. Thissen said. "Nonetheless, the governor is standing by his decision. The purpose of the visits is not to revisit that decision. Instead, someone needs to step up and figure out how we can work together to make sure our fellow Minnesotans have access to health care."
In addition to Brainerd, the tour will visit the hospitals in Thief River Falls, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Cambridge and Cloquet - as well as four metro hospitals.
"My colleagues and I have several innovative ideas for better and more efficiently serving the GAMC population," said Thissen. "But we know we do not have the corner on the truth. The purpose of the visits is to test drive our ideas and to see if those on the front lines have other practical and effective ways of keeping these folks healthy."
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