Three Minnesota residents who depend on the state’s General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program to pay for their health care filed suit Thursday in Ramsey County District Court in an effort to keep the program running, despite Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s plan to eliminate it.
The lawsuit seeks a restraining order to stop the state Department of Human Services from initiating a procedure to roll current GAMC participants into MinnesotaCare, a state program that provides health insurance to low- and moderate-income individuals and families but requires premium payments and co-pays and offers limited hospital coverage to participants.
Last summer, Pawlenty line-item vetoed a $381 million appropriation that constituted the lion’s share of GAMC funding. His administration has ordered that about 21,000 of the 30,000 to 38,000 Minnesotans who use the program in an average month be automatically enrolled in MinnesotaCare as of Ap ril 1.
The governor also unallotted part of GAMC’s funding for fiscal year 2010 (around $16 million). A separate lawsuit questioning his unallotment authority will be heard later this month by the state Supreme Court.
The lawsuit called the potential harm to current GAMC participants “substantial” if the transfer from GAMC to MinnesotaCare goes forward.
Last month, Pawlenty vetoed a $150 million, 16-month extension of GAMC, saying that there was no money to pay for it and that it didn’t include necessary reforms of the program. An attempt to override his veto passed the Senate last week but failed in the House.
Pawlenty told reporters that his staff is continuing to work with DFL legislators on a compromise, but he pointed out that time is running out in the face of auto-enrollment.