Up to no good


I am on to you Governor Pawlenty. It took me a while to understand the extent to which you plan to destroy Minnesota’s public health care, but I think I finally see the whole picture now.

First you cut GAMC, a health care program for the state’s poorest residents, explaining that it is both wasteful and unnecessary. The people currently on GAMC will all be shifted over to MinnesotaCare before GAMC runs out on April 1, 2010.  MinnesotaCare is currently available to Minnesotans who do not otherwise have access to affordable health care and whose income is between 150 percent to 275 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Single adults without children are currently eligible for MinnesotaCare with an income up to 275 percent of poverty, but the Governor’s newest proposal to cut services include limiting that eligibility to only 75 percent of poverty for this group. Coincidentally, that is the same income eligibility requirement as the current GAMC. If the Governor’s newest proposal goes through, it is estimated that some 21,000 Minnesotans currently on MinnesotaCare will lose their health care coverage.

MN2020 has previously mentioned that it is unlikely that more than 25 percent of the GAMC recipients transferred over to MinnesotaCare will successfully progress to traditional MinnesotaCare after their initial eligibility expires. This is due largely to the ill-fit of the program to the clients. The cost, the paperwork, and the requirement of continuous enrollment are difficult for most GAMC recipients, many of whom are homeless, to keep up.

If we assume that roughly 35,000 people are transferred to MinnesotaCare by April 1, but only 25 percent will remain with it, then we should also expect another 26,000 Minnesotans to be without coverage in the next 6 months or so. When the MN Dept. of Human Services calculated the estimated percentage of GAMC recipients who are likely to successfully transition to MinnesotaCare, there was the assumption that the GAMC population would still receive General Assistance of $203 per month.

But Governor Pawlenty has proposed ending General Assistance on Dec 1, 2010. Without any income, it is likely that even more current GAMC recipients will be unable to keep up with MinnesotaCare, and come 2011, we will see even more people without any kind of public health care.

The effect of the Governor’s current (and possible future) policies is the end of GAMC and a MinnesotaCare that is neither here nor there as it becomes nearly exclusive to GAMC recipients (who for the most part will not be able to afford the program cost or keep up with the administrative requirements) and the few families who still fall within the eligibility requirements. And we can expect to have another 45,000 to 50,000 people without access to affordable health care.

Of course, the Governor can then pat himself on the back exclaiming “savings all around!”  What the Governor will fail to mention is those Minnesotans who will now be without health care or have inadequate health care, and the rest of us who will be stuck footing the bill of increased emergency room care and an overall sicker state.

It is truly a great plan to make Minnesota’s public health care mediocre, and with any luck we can soon become the 50th rather than the 43rd lowest ranked for public health spending as we continue our slide to the bottom.