Looming end to GAMC brings out ideas


The March 1 deadline for the end of the health care program serving 70,000 of the state’s most vulnerable adults has House members and service providers scrambling for a stop-gap solution to soft-land people into other programming. 

Biennial funding for the state’s General Assistance Medical Care program was vetoed by the governor last spring, and his subsequent unallotment will end the program on March 1, 2010.

Two House members presented their frameworks for possible legislation to a joint meeting of the House Health Care and Human Services Finance Division and House Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee. (WATCH)

The current plan is to move GAMC participants into the state’s MinnesotaCare coverage; however, some say this will not lower public costs because many people (estimates say 11,000) will remain uninsured, and there could be an eligibility period during the transition when participants will have no coverage.

Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) presented a plan to temporarily restore the GAMC on March 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, funded through a surcharge.

“This is not a perfect solution and it does not bring GAMC to what it is today, but it is a start. Minnesota is in a unique time … short on resources but long on conscience,” she said.

The plan, she said, would restore some funding to hospitals for GAMC services, capture federal funds and add some stability to the state’s dwindling Health Care Access Fund used to fund public health care programming.

The proposal presented by Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) takes a three-pronged approach. It starts with an accurate census of who uses GAMC. Because many of the people are homeless, he said they only show up at the hospital when they are in desperate need of services.

“This is a not a typical patient type they move in and out of hospital care. They may have multiple complications; they are patients that are difficult to monitor. … My bill addresses some of the problems dealing with the transition,” he said.

His plan would also call for the counties picking up the medical care tab of nearly $10,000 per patient, and a new medical home model for patients with chronic conditions.

More hearings are expected, as committee chairmen Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL-Duluth) and Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) say legislation should be crafted and considered for the start of session Feb. 4.