Monday, February 22, 2010

Julianne Ortman does not lack compassion

And Dick Nixon was not a crook.

Ortman had a scolding op-ed in the StarTribune this morning supporting the governor’s veto of GAMC and justifying her vote against the bill when it came up in the Senate last week. [Parenthetically, I have heard that Sen. Geoff Michel, along with three other senators, voted “yea” on the measure on the floor, but later changed their votes to “no” for the record. I am trying to run that to ground.]

According to Sen. Ortman, the problem with GAMC is that the homeless people and the chemically dependent people and the impoverished people have no incentive to keep themselves healthy. They really need the fiscal discipline of premiums and co-pays to do that. And they really need to be discouraged from going to the emergency room, too!

One can imagine the scene: a police officer finds a man, half-frozen in a snow bank. As the officer tries to lift him out of the snow, the man croaks, “Please officer, don’t take me to the ER. The co-pay will kill me. I’ll just rest here until morning, and then I’ll call my GP on my cell.”

Welcome to Julianne Ortman’s world. But that’s what she thinks will happen if GAMC is rolled up into Minnesota Care.

It is also pretty funny that Republicans are suddenly the champions of Minnesota Care. This is the very program that the governor has been trying to cut for years. He’s also used hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue collected  – the provider tax and premiums collected – that was intended for MInnesota Care which would have built substantial reserves by now, to plug holes in the general fund budget, as part of his no new taxes pledge.

A couple of other points are in order, too. First, the GAMC bill passed is just a stop gap bill. Ortman wails – as the govenor did – that it doesn’t have any “reform.” It wasn’t really intended to. But among the other absurdities of Ortman’s magic Minnesota Care solution is the fact that people can’t move seamlessly into the Minnesota Care program: there are applications, verifications, and a waiting period. All well and good, but beyond the capacity of some of the GAMC recipients, and certainly in the short term.

And finally, the cessation of the GAMC program really shifts costs from the state to Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. When HCMC starts waving off the medivac helicopters transporting trauma victims from Chanhassen, maybe Ortman will have an epiphany.

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