Not much gen. assistance

An attempt at compromise has crippled GAMC reform.

MinnesotaâÄôs General Assistance Medical Care program has had a rollercoaster ride in recent months and appears headed for a crash. Earlier this month, a strong bid by legislators to save the program from Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs cuts died on the tip of his veto pen. In order to save the program, which offers medical coverage to the lowest-income childless adults in the state, it had to be pared down. And what was the acceptable solution for making sure our stateâÄôs poorest people have access to medical care? Why, to have someone else pay for it, of course. Critics of the scaled-down plan, such as former Sen. Mark Dayton, complain that it shifts many of the costs of care not only to hospitals but to local governments. However, it also gave hospitals the choice of opting out. It comes as little surprise, then, that only five hospitals have signed on the new plan so far, none of them outside the Twin Cities metro area. If more hospitals donâÄôt sign on, the burden and costs of care will fall disproportionately and untenably on those that have. It would also severely undermine the purpose of GAMC if care were restricted to one small region of the state. In short, the GAMC is badly in need of reform, but a better solution is buried in the federal health care reform bill. Under that bill, Minnesota is one of 10 states that have the power to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults. House Democrats are wisely already pushing for this option. Many GAMC recipients are homeless, mentally ill or both. Minnesotans need to ask themselves: Do we want to be the kind of state that looks after our most vulnerable? Our current governor, on our behalf, has answered âÄúno.âÄù