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Healthcare cuts hurt hospitals statewide

There have been rising concerns across Minnesota over a wave of budget cuts in the state's health care system, according to a Star Tribune report.


Hospitals, including Hennepin County Medical Center and Regions Hospital, and clinics have had to cut positions and reduce services because of the statewide budget cuts.

Advocacy groups have voiced major concerns over cuts on HCMC's budget in particular. The hospital lost $12 million last year in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unallotment process, this year it cut 200 positions, and it will cut another $43 million soon.

This would "tip this hospital over and create a crisis," said Dr. Joseph Clinton, chief of emergency medicine in the Star Tribune report. "It would mean unacceptable deaths for patients who can't get care."

Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said Thursday that the decisions were difficult "but they were necessary in order to balance the state budget during a time of unprecedented economic challenges."

The governor also plans to eliminate General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), which would significantly reduce the health care coverage of those with chronic illnesses and mental health problems.

Minnesota Public Radio reported that the Minnesota Department of Human Services outlined a proposal to transfer 28,000 people from GAMC into MinnesotaCare, but many, like Hennepin County Chairman Mike Opat, say the plan will not work because MinnesotaCare caps payments and is less generous than GAMC.

Democratic state lawmakers have been developing a plan to help the sickest GAMC patients despite the budget cuts; details of the plan will be out in a few weeks, according to MPR.



Debate over Israel's settlement freeze

Al Jazeera English reported Wednesday that Israel's prime minister announced a 10-month suspension to the construction of new settlement houses in the West Bank.


Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement came at a press conference Wednesday, during which he said the decision was made to encourage the peace process with the Palestinians.


Calling the move "far-reaching and painful," according to a Haaretz report, Netanyahu said construction would resume after the moratorium is over.


Despite the announcement, another Haaretz report said many Palestinian leaders are dissatisfied with the proposal because of its failure to halt construction in Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to establish a state capital in the future.


According to Al Jazeera, Israel's proposal excludes public buildings and the construction of 3,000 buildings that has already begun.

"This is not a moratorium," said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "Unfortunately, we hoped he would commit to a real settlement freeze so we can resume negotiations and he had a choice between settlements and peace and he chose settlements."


Netanyahu's announcement comes after pressure from the Obama administration to freeze settlements. Although the U.S. president has not made comments on the move yet, U.S. reactions have been mixed. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said the move was disappointing because it is not a full freeze on construction, but he acknowledged its significance and potential positive impact, according to the BBC.



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