On Thursday, Feb. 4 I joined a group of 51 people to ride a bus from Duluth to the state capitol to urge the Minnesota legislature and Gov. Pawlenty to save GAMC. GAMC is the medical insurance the poorest of the poor receive. It stands for General Assistance Medical Care. The proposed cuts are to single individuals who earn less than $7,000 per year.
Without this insurance these people will go without or end up visiting the emergency rooms. These emergency room visits will end up costing all of the public money. While on the bus and at the capitol I visited with several people who are recipients of GAMC. It is scheduled to be cut on April 1.
There is some movement in the legislature to have a temporary extension of the program for 16 months and by that time Minnesota will have a new governor. Many of the people on GAMC have physical and mental health issues that make it hard for them to work.
Several ordained clergy attended the event. Clergy on the bus included Rev. Kathy Nelson of Peace United Church of Christ, Rev. Cathy Cathy Schuyler of Duluth Congregation Church and retired Rev. John Clark Pegg.
Many people say it is a moral issue.
The Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman of Temple Israel said different denominations and religions might pray differently, but all were in agreement to take care of their neighbor. "Let us find the spiritual audacity deep within us." She also said, "We will propel you," to the legislators who are supportive of the GAMC.
The Duluth group visited their districts representatives and senators. Some of the Duluth group broke off to visit Linda Berglind, Chair of the Health, Human Services and Corrections Budget Division. Tommy O'Neill, was one to tell her his story.
The group of people went into Gov. Pawlenty's office hoping to meet with him, but he was unavailable. Over 60 letters in support of keeping GAMC were left at his office.
After being at the capitol for under two hours the group board the bus and headed back to Duluth