NEWS DAY | Pawlenty prescription for poor / “Quiet” immigration action / Strib cuts 100 / War reports

stethescope_morguefilePawlenty’s prescription for the poor After decreeing an end to General Assistance Medical Care, the state program that covers the poorest of the poor, Governor Tim Pawlenty now has found a “solution.” He has ordered that the counties enroll GAMC enrollees in MinnesotaCare and pay their MinnesotaCare premiums for up to six months. After that, the former GAMC enrollees will have to pay their own premiums, estimated at about $5 per month, as well as any co-pays.

That could still be a problem. Many of those who are receiving General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) are living on $203 a month, and are homeless, in precarious housing, or low-income housing. An estimated 70 percent of those who receive GAMC deal with a mental illness or substance abuse.

Hospital officials told the Star Tribune that many GAMC enrollees incur inpatient costs higher than MinnesotaCare’s $10,000 annual cap, and that people who arrive at the emergency room in need, but not yet enrolled, will not be covered. Under GAMC, if an eligible person arrives at the hospital in need of emergency treatment, the person can be retroactively enrolled to cover the cost of treatment.

Star Tribune:

Nor are the counties thrilled about picking up the premium tab. “It’s in counties’ interest to make sure this group of people has coverage, but we’re not happy about having an additional cost passed on to us,” said Patricia Coldwell, a policy analyst for the Association of Minnesota Counties.

Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, who chairs the Health and Human Services Budget Committee, said MinnesotaCare is already stretched because the economy has resulted in a surge of new enrollees. Add the General Assistance enrollees and the program is likely to run out of funding in 2011 instead of 2012, she said.

“Quiet” immigration action
Some 1,200 janitors were fired in Minnesota, based on their immigration status, reports MPR. That’s almost as many as the number arrested in the six 2006 Swift raids and about three times as many as were arrested in Postville in 2008. The main difference: these janitors were fired, not arrested and deported.

The janitors worked for San Francisco-based ABM, which cleans many downtown office towers in the Twin Cities. ABM, the Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), and the janitors’ union, SEIU, all declined comment for the MPR article. The process began this summer, with ABM letters to workers saying ICE had found problems with their paperwork. They were given time to fix the problems, but time ran out in October, when the firings started. ABM had advertised for workers in September and apparently filled all of the positions before firing workers.

The Obama administration has been aggressive in removing undocumented workers. In fiscal year 2009, which ended in September, ICE deported 6,300 people from the region represented by Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska. That’s 1,000 more people than during the last year of the Bush administration. …
John Keller of the Immigrant Law Center says of the 1,200 fired janitors, about 10 might have a path to citizenship under existing laws. The rest, he says, will probably try to wait it out, hoping for the laws to change so they can work here legally.

Strib cuts 100
The Star Tribune will cut 100 jobs, including 30 in its 290-person news room, it announced yesterday. The 70 non-news-room jobs will be gone by the end of the year, while the 30 news room jobs “may take a little longer.”

The pink slips started coming Monday. Duane Lee, a project coordinator in the facilities department, said he was told his job would be eliminated Dec. 31 and that he was part of the 100 layoffs. The company gave him an employee-of-the-year award in 2004, Lee said.
Since 2006 the Star Tribune has shrunk its workforce by nearly 40 percent, or the equivalent of 779 full-time employees.

At MinnPost, David Brauer interprets talk about “somehow restructuring how work is done:”

To me, that’s code that the cuts will focus on non-bylined newsroom troops such as copy editors, designers, etc. The Strib has held reporters relatively harmless in recent cutting, and I’m betting that will continue.

War reports
White House: No decision yet on troops to Afghanistan
After reports that President Obama has decided to send 30,000 (McClatchey) or 40,000 (CBS) additional troops to Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a firm and unequivocal denial Monday night. National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones said:

“Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false. He has not received final options for his consideration, he has not reviewed those options with his national security team, and he has not made any decisions about resources. Any reports to the contrary are completely untrue and come from uninformed sources.”

President Obama embarks on a week-long trip to Asia on Thursday and no decision is expected until after the trip, according to TPM.

Pakistan A bomb outside a market in northwest Pakistan today killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 50, some critically, according to AP.

The bombing in Charsadda city was the third attack in as many days in or close to Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. Militants have stepped up attacks in recent weeks in retaliation for an army offensive in a key area along the Afghan border.

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