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Homeless join in criticism of health care cuts

Hospitals, Democrats and advocates for people who are poor and/or disabled have been loudly complaining about health care cuts ever since Gov. Tim Pawlenty slashed the General Assistance Medical Care program this spring.

Now people who are homeless — and going to lose their care — are adding their voices to the debate.

WCCO-TV has a story about St. Stephen’s Church in Minneapolis, which runs an extensive program to help the homeless, and is video-taping interviews with homeless people to get their perspective, and get their side of the story into policy conversation.

“This is a way to get that voice out that isn’t getting out in any other way,” said Josh Lange, human rights program director at St. Stephen’s.

The GAMC program being cut covers most homeless people, who will lose their coverage in March, the story said.

“People on anti-psychotic meds who are trying to figure out, ‘Well, do I wean myself off? How do I do that?’ People with diabetes [who need to take] insulin. These [are] real life-or-death issues. They’re scared,” said Lange.

Said the story:

Hospitals are afraid patients will wait until their health gets worse and end up in the emergency room.

“People aren’t going to stop getting sick when their health care runs out. They’re not going to stop getting injured on the streets, they’re not going to stop having mental health issues,” said Lange.

That’s why St. Stephen’s won’t stop until they have a thousand interviews for the governor, as they go beyond a paper petition to show the people in uncertainty.

More than 30,000 Minnesotans are covered right now by GAMC. Pawlenty has said once it ends, other programs should cover them. But, opponents say different programs have higher costs and those programs need more money if they’re going to cover new patients.

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