A day after a marathon floor debate in the House, the Senate passed its own health and human services bill 42-19.
The roughly two-and-a-half hours of floor debate was considerably shorter than the more the nine hours that the House took to wrangle over its version of the bill.
Senate Health and Human Services Budget Division Chairwoman Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, said the bill doesn’t include any long-term care cuts or hospital cuts. It also takes advantage of federal dollars.
The bill does away with the general assistance medical care (GAMC) program. In its stead, the bill enrolls adults without children below 75 percent of the federal poverty guideline in the state’s Medicaid program known as Medical Assistance. If the bill is enacted, the state gets a 50-percent match from the federal government.
The bill includes surcharges on hospitals, health maintenance organizations and nursing facilities.
The bill was subjected to politically charged amendments.
Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, offered an amendment that would “not allow” the state to impose penalties based on any federal requirements to buy health care. The amendment was defeated even though some DFLers that represent swing districts voted for it.
In an improbable move, Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Praire, offered an amendment for universal, single-payer health care “to see if this is the direction we want to take.” Single payer is a policy that’s usually advocated by the left-wing of the Democratic party. Hann didn’t include a dollar figure with his amendment.
Berglin objected to Hann’s amendment because it didn’t account for the cost of adopting a single-payer system.
“I’m absolutely convinced that my target would not be met if this amendment was adopted,” Berglin said.
The amendment was ruled out of order.