Taking their struggle to YouTube, Twin Cities' homeless are telling Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty what they think about recent health care cuts. Pawlenty's veto ended the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) program during the last legislative session. Coverage that protects homeless Minnesotans will stop in March 2010.
Hoping to catch the governor's attention, homeless people are telling their stories to camera crews and posting them on YouTube. Josh Lang, Human Rights Program Director at St. Stephen's, says the project is "a way to get that voice out that isn't getting out in any other way."
"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." Lang told a local reporter. "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."
Michael Harristhal, Vice President of Public Policy and Strategy at Hennepin County Medical Center, the facility that handles the most patients on GAMC in the state, is concerned that ending the GAMC program will drive up costs for everyone. "[The GAMC funding cut] was conceived as a way to save costs but unless we come up with a better solution it actually could result in higher costs to the system," he stated.
Patients without health care often must delay treatment and end up in the emergency room, a more costly treatment option.
St. Stephen's Human Services hopes to record 1,000 YouTube interviews for Governor Pawlenty. By actually showing the people left in the lurch without health care, they hope the impact will go beyond that of a paper petition.
Over 30,000 Minnesotans are currently covered by GAMC. Pawlenty has said that when it ends, other programs should cover them. But opponents say different programs have higher costs and that those programs will need more money to cover new patients.
For the entire collection of YouTube videos CLICK HERE.
Here's a compilation video featuring a few of the voices edited together in one video montage: