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Minnesota Opinion: On health care cuts:

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An excerpt from recent editorials in Minnesota newspapers:

Gov. Pawlenty seems to believe that the best way to deal with the rising cost of medical care is to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding to hospitals and to cut thousands of people off the state medical programs that help pay their bills.

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If hospitals were being overpaid for the services they provide to patients enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and MinnesotaCare, Pawlenty would have a strong case for reducing reimbursements.

Likewise, if thousands of people who receive state-paid care actually could afford to buy health insurance on their own, then our governor would have every right to cut them off.

But we don't think that's the case. Instead, we're fairly certain that these spending cuts would simply cause hospitals to lay off employees, refuse to accept new Medicare patients and charge paying customers even more to make up for the loss in state revenue.

Meanwhile, people who lose their state-paid medical assistance will use emergency rooms for all their medical needs -- which, of course, is the least cost-effective place for them to be treated.

Clearly, we need a nationwide plan to control the costs of medical care. But simply telling Minnesota's hospitals to "tighten their belts" isn't an answer -- unless your top priority is to balance the state's books while avoiding anything that might be called a tax increase.

-- The Journal of New Ulm

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