REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | The billion dollar question


We are looking for the opinions and perspectives of people who received support from Medicaid, GAMC, or MinnesotaCare – now or in the past.  If you are currently receiving any benefits, how will this year’s changes affect you or your family?  How does the cost of health care affect the family purchases you make, or the healthcare options you select?

We are also interested in hearing from anyone who works in or studies the complex world of public health care costs and finances, who may have a perspective on how GAMC and Medicaid options may affect the bottom line to the state of Minnesota.

If you have stories, contacts or information for this story, email Lawrence Schumacher –


Inside the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA) passed this spring in congress, and quickly signed into law by President Obama, is a choice that each state must make regarding the expansion of Medicaid.  Starting in 2014, an expanded version of Medicaid — the means-tested federal program that covers healthcare for low-income and some disabled groups — will be in place throughout the United States, simplifying access for eligible individuals and improving benefits for those who qualify.  Between now and 2014, some states have the option of adopting the change early, allowing their citizens access to these expanded benefits ahead of schedule. 

While the changes that take place in 2014 will be paid for by the federal government, any early adoption will be paid for — until 2014 — partly by the states that choose to opt-in.  Minnesota’s outgoing governor, Tim Pawlenty, has shown no interest in early adoption of the federal expansion.  Some supporters of early adoption, however, have pointed out that the new system would replace Minnesota’s General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program entirely, saving Minnesota the cost of operating that program until it is eliminated in 2014.  The cost savings, they argue, of early elimination of GAMC would more than offset the cost of early adoption of HCERA, leaving both the most vulnerable Minnesotans better protected, and the state’s finances in better shape.  This topic is sure to generate fierce debate as the governor’s race heats up here in Minnesota.