Rural senators get rolled by metrocentric GAMC fix

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This is one example of why there’s resentment sometimes toward the Twin Cities from rural Minnesota.

A group of 15 rural Minnesota Senators who had voted to pass an ultimately vetoed attempt to reform and continue the General Assistance Medical Care program ended up opposing a second try, even though it passed easily Thursday.

The Senate voted 50-17 to pass SF 460, a bill from Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, that cuts, but preserves the state’s insurance program for its poorest residents in a modified form.

The bill was the result of a deal brokered between DFL lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who had vetoed Berglin’s earlier attempt at preserving GAMC.

That bill had passed the Senate 47-16, and an override of Pawlenty’s veto passed the Senate on a 45-21 vote, only to fall a few votes shy of success in the House of Representatives.

But 15 rural Minnesota Senators who voted yes then voted no this time over concerns that the bill only helps larger hospitals with more GAMC patients, largely in the Twin Cities.

The revised bill only compensates 17 hospitals which have more than $1.5 million in annual GAMC patient care per year. Smaller hospitals can apply for GAMC payments down the road but will have to eat the entire cost of treating the poor for now.

The 15 Senators who flipped were:

Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook

Lisa Fobbe, DFL-Princeton

Paul Koering, R-Fort Ripley

Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon

Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing

Rick Olseen, DFL-Harris

Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji

Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth

Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope

Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids

Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato

Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook

Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt

Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin

Jim Vickerman, DFL-Tracy

They were more than outmatched, however, by Twin Cities-oriented DFL senators who got theirs, and the addition of Republican Senators who had voted against the first bill but supported the second one’s reduced price tag.

A companion bill in the House of Representatives from Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, is headed for a vote next week.