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GAMC is top topic as legislators visit hospital

State Sen. Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, left, and Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail, listen to Tri-County Hospital leadership Thursday.

Minnesota's General Assistance Medical Care program was one of the topics discussed among state legislators and Tri-County Hospital leadership during a lunch session at the hospital Thursday.

The TCH governing board and administration shared local health care-related concerns with State Sen. Dan Skogen, DFL-Hewitt, and Rep. Mark Murdock, R-Ottertail.

GAMC is schedule to end March 1 after the governor unalloted funding for it last legislative session.

Getting fixes for the GAMC program, informing legislators about the status of the Community Behavioral Health Hospital and loosening some of the mandates for hospital staffing were the three major issues the hospital wanted to discuss, Joel Beiswenger, TCH president and CEO, said after the meeting.

Cutting GAMC will affect the hospital by $1 million per year, Beiswenger said. People presently covered by the program will still seek care but will no longer have a payment source.

Skogen expects GAMC to be the first health-care-related issue the senate will deal with, he said following the meeting. The committee has been working on it already and he expects to see it in the first week to 10 days, he said. It may even be on the floor by then.

"The governor has openly said the reason he unalloted it was to force our hand on fixing it," Skogen said. "So we're going to come back with what we believe is a fix and we'll see if he'll support that."

Murdock said health care has to be a