Nurses condemn Pawlenty refusal to accept federal health care funds


The president of the 20,000-member Minnesota Nurses Association condemned Governor Tim Pawlenty’s recent Executive Order directing state agencies to refuse all “discretionary participation” in the federal health care reform law. “This is truly an unconscionable decision by our governor. By doing this the governor will hurt Minnesota’s most vulnerable patients and undermine our efforts to save and create health care jobs in this state,” said MNA President Linda Hamilton. “Clearly, the actions by our governor put his political ambitions ahead of the health of Minnesotans.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, along with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will both bring badly needed new federal health care dollars into the state, which is facing a huge budget deficit in 2011.

The governor’s refusal to accept assistance for the Medicaid program means Minnesota will lose out on $236 million in federal funds this year along with over
$1.4 billion in funds that could be used to help offset the state’s poorly-funded General Assistance Medical Care program, the union said.

“The new GAMC program is causing serious harm to patients and providers,” Hamilton said. “These are funds that can help pay for programs that assist our most vulnerable low-income Minnesotans, many of whom are homeless Veterans with chronic conditions.”

Additionally, many nurses as well as their co-workers are facing job losses, putting more strain on the already unsafe staffing levels inside some Minnesota hospitals, according to Hamilton.

“The governor is picking and choosing what federal money he will accept as long as it meets his personal political agenda,” she said. “Since when is that in the best interest of the people of Minnesota?”

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