A New Direction for GAMC

As we’ve talked about previously, General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) is changing dramatically this year.  This Friday, Governor Pawlenty signed SF 460 into law.  The state will pay hospitals, beginning in June, through block grant payments, for services to their GAMC patients.  The largest providers of services to GAMC patients, 17 hospitals, will become Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO).   Hospitals that served fewer GAMC patients will be able to receive funding, for six months, from an uncompensated care pool and will be able to later become a CCO.  They will be responsible for the entire health of the patients and some care will be delivered through clinics not the emergency department.

These payments to hospitals will be significantly less than they have been in the past, but do alleviate some of the uncompensated care costs they would have suffered under the Governor’s plan to auto-enroll GAMC patients into MNCare.  This bill also keeps the Health Care Access Fund intact.  Drug coverage will also be maintained for recipients, the majority of whom are mentally ill or suffer from chronic diseases and depend upon prescriptions to manage their illnesses.

While this solution is better than nothing, we are going to be working hard to identify opportunities in the recently passed federal health care reform bills for better models of care.

The compromise has preserved benefits though May, although current enrollees should expect a letter from the state that explains a timeline for benefit changes.  Prospective patients should apply through their county, and they will be directed to programs for which they are eligible.  More information can be found on the MN DHS website.