Does slashing health care in Minnesota to deal with the budget deficit make Governor Tim Pawlenty a health care expert? He certainly seems to think so. Minnesota’s newest “health care expert” has been busy this week, calling health care reform a “joke” on the news, urging Minnesota’s congressional delegation to abandon the legislation, and co-authoring a “report” on health care reform. And what do you know, you only have to reach page six to find the Lewin Group, cited as an independent research organization.
Just how did Pawlenty become a health care expert? Through his work in Minnesota, of course.
Our nation’s health care system should be market-driven, patient-centered, and quality-focused,” Governor Pawlenty said. “In Minnesota, we have implemented nation-leading reforms that have begun to rein in the growing costs of health care.
Now, wait a second. While that all sounds well and good, the Governor seems to have forgotten all the crucial health care services he cut through his use of unallotment. Let’s not forget, Governor, that you threw thousands of people off health care by eliminating General Assistance Medical Care. Low income adults, ages 21-64, who have no dependent children under 18 and who do not qualify for federal health care programs are the ones who are eligible for GAMC. The number of hospitals affected by its elimination is enormous—check it out for yourself on the Defend MN Budget Cuts Mapping Project by clicking on GAMC Cuts.
MN Publius has a great list of other health care related programs Pawlenty cut. Some examples include a program that serves childless adults near or below the poverty line, health care programs that serve the poorest and sickest Minnesotans, and personal care services for disabled Minnesotans. Governor Pawlenty sure is patient-centered, but centered on slashing health care for the patients who need it the most—the poor, the sick, and the chronically and mentally ill. Minnesota’s nation-leading health care reform comes no thanks to Pawlenty. The Star Tribune reports:
But simply eliminating GAMC does not remove all of the costs of care. It just moves those costs off of the state’s ledger and onto others — mostly those of privately insured people — and inflates them even more rapidly, as emergency rooms become the only source of care for the GAMC population. The toll in human suffering will increase if the poor are denied access to medication and clinical care. Hospitals say they will cut back on some high-cost services to compensate for lost GAMC revenue. That would mean a loss of medical infrastructure for entire communities.
Unalloting health care for Minnesota’s most vulnerable populations does not make Governor Pawlenty an expert on health care. His unilateral unallotment has had dramatic consequences for many Minnesotans. Take, for example, Robert Fischer. He is weaning himself off his medications, including his anti-depressant, so he will be better prepared when he loses his health insurance in March, according to MPR. Demonstrate your support for comprehensive reform this year by signing a petition to say that, unlike Governor Pawlenty, you do not think health care reform is a joke.
Photo Credit: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation