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200 could lose health care

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news Wadena, 56482
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson, P.O. Box 31 56482

A state health care program that covers approximately 200 people a month in Wadena County is on the line to be cut March 1 due to the unallotment last legislative session.

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General Assistance Medical Care serves qualifying adults 21-64 without children who are not disabled, Financial Assistance Supervisor Jean Stokes told the Wadena County Social Services Board.

A population served by GAMC in the county are some of those in group residential housing, Stokes said. GAMC also covers 13 percent of those admitted to the Wadena Community Behavioral Health Hospital.

The program is reviewed every six months for eligibility, she said. If a person on GAMC is determined to have greater medical needs the county sends documentation down to the Minnesota Department of Human Services to see if the person can be determined disabled and qualify for medical

assistance.

"We're probably looking a little bit closer at this population right now to see if maybe we can do more to get them continued coverage in that respect," Stokes said.

There are a couple issues to consider, said Paul Sailer, the county's human services director.

"First, a couple hundred people will be without health care and the consequences for them if they don't have coverage," he said. "Secondly, we have [health care] providers in the community that serve this population."

One of the larger health care providers gets about $1 million in revenue from serving people covered by GAMC, Sailer said.

He expects not only counties, but hospitals and clinic associations will try to find other ways for the Legislature to provide coverage for this population, he said.

In addition to reviewing GAMC clients for disability eligibility, MinnesotaCare is also being looked at as

another option for these people, Sailer said. It is a 100 percent state-funded program, but has a limited benefit set. One of the discussions underway is about expanding the program, he said.

The legislative session opens the middle of February and GAMC is scheduled to end in March, Sailer said. Bills will have to be ready when the session begins if there's going to be action on this issue.

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