Doctors Tell Lawmakers to Find a New GAMC Fix

Jan 29, 2010, 12:53 ET from Minnesota Medical Association

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Minnesota Medical Association Board of Trustees decided Saturday that it will continue to support efforts to save the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program, but not if such efforts include cuts in payments for services, since the existing payments already do not cover the cost of providing care.

The Board also voted to support broad-based tax increases that would support health care programs. The MMA sent a letter to lawmakers this week.

The vote means that the MMA, which represents more than 10,000 physicians, can not support the DFL's current proposal to create a 16-month GAMC program. The proposal includes a 50 percent cut in reimbursement rates for clinic services provided to GAMC enrollees.

The MMA also does not support Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal for a one-time, short-term (no more than 6 months) transfer of GAMC enrollees into the MinnesotaCare.

"Neither the Governor's plan nor the DFL's plan addresses one of the most fundamental problems with our health care safety net programs—the need for adequate and reasonable funding," said MMA President Benjamin Whitten, M.D. "The state's trend of requiring physicians and other providers to absorb the cost of maintaining these programs isn't sustainable and will result in clinics having to close their doors."

The MMA does not support the Governor's plan because it would move the nearly 30,000 people enrolled in GAMC into MinnesotaCare - a premium-based program - that they will not be able to afford. It will also likely bankrupt the Health Care Access Fund (HCAF) as early as next year.

The DFL plan puts health care providers in an untenable position.  GAMC payment rates do not even cover the overhead costs of most clinics. Clinic payment rates are already absurdly low. Clinics have seen only one across-the-board payment increase of 3 percent for state payments during the past 18 years, despite practice costs increasing more than 30 percent. In addition, last year, rates were cut by 6.5 percent for all non-primary care services.

"The MMA supports the GAMC program and remains committed to the goal of universal coverage. But such a goal is not free, and we believe that Minnesota needs new, broad-based revenues in order to preserve health care for Minnesotans."

SOURCE Minnesota Medical Association



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