Media Misses Health Trend Story Behind Rating

We’re number six! We’re number six!

It’s not exactly the cheer proud Minnesotans are accustomed to when it comes to health. After all, for four years in a row we were the number one healthiest state in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation. Health has always been one of the centerpieces of our vaunted Minnesota quality of life, but this is the third straight year we’ve been trending downward.

If we stopped dropping at number six, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But unfortunately, the future may not look so great either. The Minnesota news media reported on Minnesota’s sixth place rating, but none of them connected the policy dots to describe where Minnesota appears to be headed in coming years. As the liberal policy think tank Minnesota 20-20 points out:

The Governor’s cuts to GAMC (General Assistance Medical Care, a state-funded program for low-income adults who have no dependent children and who do not qualify for federally funded health care programs) will increase our number of uninsured come March 1, since not all GAMC recipients are qualified for the automatic transfer to MinnesotaCare. After the six month grace period is over, it is likely that many GAMC recipients will be unable to maintain their coverage through MinnesotaCare due to the procedural requirements and cost. The discontinuation of GAMC is part of a larger $1 billion cut to Health and Human Services and it remains to be seen just how these cuts will affect other programs.
….
Most of what Minnesota does well (in the United Health Foundation ratings measurements): low premature death rate, a low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease, low infant mortality comes from the fact that we have a low rate of uninsured people in the state, but if this changes with the end to GAMC and overall cuts to the Department of Human Services, it is a good chance that there will be negative consequences to our low premature death rate, low cardiovascular deaths, and low infant mortality.

The once proud number one healthiest state is now envious of states in the top five. Will we soon be envious of states in the top ten or fifteen? We get a lot of news stories about the political gamesmanship aspects of unallotment. How about more stories about the quality-of-life impacts of the Governor’s unilateral cutting?

- Lovelandsba nice

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10 Responses

  1. And today, more good news on the health front. Due to Pawlenty’s GAMC cuts, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) announced that it can no longer do charity care for other counties for non-emergency care, is closing two clinics and is cutting 200 jobs. The Good Life In Minnesota.

  2. Yes, that headline and story, similar to others, is very troubling. But if these services are genuinely beyond the capacity to afford them, what do you do?

  3. I find it interesting that states that have stepped out and tried to cover everyone end up failing to do so within their budgets.

    How is it that if Minnesota and Hawaii can’t make it work, we ought to extend the model to the rest of the nation?

    (written by a person who lives in a state where more than 90% of the insurance market is administered by a single, non-profit company…)

  4. Ike: Can’t make it work? Being ranked number one in health is not making it work???

    And Dennis, what do you have to do to stay on top? Pull together and pay what it takes to have high quality health care, because not paying for GAMC now is going to cost taxpayers much more down the line.

    • I’m saying that if the state can’t afford it, then it doesn’t work.

      • That’s like not paying your electric bill because you’d rather buy other stuff, and then saying electric power systems are a failure because they’re not affordable. When the truth is, electric systems are affordable, if you make them a priority.

        Same with health care. I agree with the previous Republican Governor that health care is worth making a top priority. First, it’s the right thing to do for your fellow human beings. Second, there is no avoiding the cost because of the inevitability of cost shifting. So you prioritize it and pay the bill for it. And it worked great in Minnesota for years until this Governor changed the priorities.

  5. Incidentally, this top health status was achieved in part due to the work of Republican Governor Carlson, who created the Minnesota Care program. This is a Republican-shaped system that was working.

  6. Doug Stone had a good piece about this in Star Tribune’s Your Voices blog:

    “I hope the Senators, especially those on the fence, consider not just the details and nuances of the bill, but the real-life medical drama that is playing out at Hennepin County Medical Center and hundreds of other front-line hospitals across the country. I hope the image in their mind is that of uninsured poor people being turned away from medical care and not the ranting of the Bachmann demonstrators.”

    • The unfolding tragedy at HCMC is the latest chapter in The Cost of No New Taxes. How does it benefit any of us to have more of us sicker? We’re going to pay the piper sometime — but it’s usually after the heartless charlatans have left office — W, TPaw. Reminds me of Billy Martin, a great baseball manager who ran up victories while ruining the arms of his pitchers. Looked good for a few years, then moved on, leaving ruin behind.

      Another chapter in The Cost of No New Taxes: The charter school here in the Twin Cities my niece graduated from last year almost closed a few weeks ago. Like all charter schools, it is hit hardest by Pawlenty’s “hide the damage” cost-shifting. The No New Taxes crowd will surely want to move to new gated communities as the sick and unmedicated and ill-educated people who are the collateral damage of their righteousness continue to pile up on street corners.

  7. How is it that you all equate quality of life with government largesse?

    When your beloved Wendy Anderson was governor in 1970 – the so-called “Minnesota Miracle” governor – there was no GMAC or MinnCare? Was Wendy driving Minnesota over a cliff then, too?

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