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UnitedHealth would continue some parts of Obamacare

Seat-belt tickets top 12,000; area students’ risky New Zealand trek; Jesse Ventura’s new book; state sales tax revenue tops projections; and more.

I’m sure you, too, get a little misty-eyed when a giant insurance company talks about customers’ health and controlling costs. Tom Murphy of the AP reports: “Insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. sees some parts of the health care overhaul as sound medicine and plans to keep them regardless of whether the law survives an upcoming Supreme Court ruling. The nation’s largest health insurer said Monday that it will still cover preventive care like immunizations without charging a co-payment, which is the fee usually paid at the doctor’s office, and it will continue other popular, initial provisions of the law. … Despite deep divisions about President Barack Obama’s law, UnitedHealth’s announcement underscores the staying power of some of its reforms. Regardless of the court’s ruling, UnitedHealth will continue to offer dependent coverage to adult children up to age 26 who seek coverage through parental plans, and it won’t impose lifetime dollar limits on how much an insurance policy pays out to cover claims. That can help people fighting cancer or an expensive, chronic illness. The insurer also pledged to not pursue rescissions of individual coverage except in limited instances like cases of fraud.” And the parts about pre-existing conditions, and 85% of revenue to be used for actual medical expenses?

You can ride a motorcycle without a helmet, but the state wrote 12,000 seat belt tickets for people in cars with two to 10 airbags. Paul Walsh of the Strib says: “From May 21 to June 3, 12,639 tickets were issued for seat belt violations, according to preliminary results collected from more than 300 enforcement agencies. That number compares to 14,976 during the same campaign in 2011. In 2010, the total was 23,846. That was the first year that the campaign coincided with allowing police to ticket motorists for selt-belt violations as a primary offense, rather than along with another misdeed such as speeding or failing to obey a stop sign.”

Interesting alliance of characters at an anti-gay marriage amendment in Duluth. Mark Stodghill of the News Tribune writes: “The Duluth Firefighters Local 101 recently passed a resolution to oppose the amendment that would limit the freedom to marry. ‘I made the motion (to oppose the amendment) because it hurts some of our members,’ [DFD Captain Dane] Youngblom said. ‘We just decided that we work alongside people that legally can’t get the same rights and respect and benefits that we get, and we thought we’d just say we think it is wrong. … It was not unanimous. There was some contention, but there was a clear majority.’ University of Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller also spoke against the amendment. ‘Being married is a fundamental freedom and I believe in love, I believe in a lifelong commitment and I believe in marriage; I’ve been married to another woman for six years,’ Miller said outside the church before addressing those inside.”

The GleanTrapped nine days by a snowstorm with only trail mix … and hot springs. The AP’s Nick Perry writes: “Two U.S. students trapped in the New Zealand wilderness by a snowstorm trekked back out to safety after surviving their nine-day ordeal by rationing their meager supplies of trail mix and warming themselves in hot springs.
Alec Brown and Erica Klintworth, both 21, returned to the city of Christchurch on Monday, June 11, after meeting up with members of a search team — famished but otherwise in good shape, police said. The two students, on a foreign study program in New Zealand with University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, had planned to hike and camp for a few days at some hot springs on the country’s South Island. But heavy rains and a snowstorm during the Southern Hemisphere winter prevented the couple from being able to cross a river and return. ‘Unfortunately, it rained and rained, day after day, and snowed,’ Alec Brown wrote in an email to the Associated Press Monday. … Brown’s mother Lisa, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, said she panicked when she first found out her son was missing.”

We probably passed the point of TMI with Jesse Ventura 14 years ago. But as Bill Salisbury of the PiPress writes: “In his new book, former Gov. Jesse Ventura makes this startling revelation: ‘Like more and more guys, I experience electile dysfunction. That’s defined as ‘the inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2012 election year.’ OK, so maybe it isn’t all that startling. After all, Ventura has been railing against the Democrats and Republicans since he got into the political commentary business more than 20 years ago. But in his book, “DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government,’ he steps it up a notch, equating the parties to two southern California street gangs, the Crips and Bloods. He writes the current state of American politics resembles gangland warfare. The Democrats and Republicans protect their turf, require members to pay dues and are run by party hierarchies. And he contends they’re stealing our country. ‘They’ve created a system based upon bribery. Today, Wall Street owns our politicians, no matter which party (gang) it is — their allegiance is to the corporations and big business’, he wrote. Actually, the two parties are ‘worse than the street gangs because they affect the whole country,’ he said in an interview on Monday … the day the book was scheduled to be released.” If only we could find leaders that rise above the cult of personality and self-aggrandizement.

Yet another reason to offer relief to the job creators … Baird Helgeson of the Strib reports: “Stronger than expected sales tax collections in May helped Minnesota’s budget outperform estimates by state finance officials. The state’s general fund took in $1.3 billion in May, $32 million more than forecasted. Since February, tax revenues have surpassed estimates by $148 million, according to a new report by Minnesota Management and Budget. Minnesotans paid $380.3 million in sales tax in May, $37.4 million more than expected. Tax collections from businesses surpassed predictions by nearly double, coming in at $42.9 million.”

The national Democrats have decided to step up their fight against GOP Congressman John Kline. Corey Mitchell of the Strib writes: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added Mike Obermueller, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline, to the top of its ‘Red to Blue’ list for this fall’s election — an indication that Obermueller’s campaign will receive support from Washington, D.C. DCCC leaders added Obermueller to their ‘Emerging Races’ list earlier this year and have now promoted him to the top tier, which means his candidacy is now considered among the 36 most competitive in the nation.”

Tom Steward, former TV reporter and media secretary for Norm Coleman, has some thoughts on the Nanny State’s role in getting kids to school. In an MPR commentary, he writes: “ ‘Safe Routes Minnesota takes a holistic approach to all these problems, creating a positive effect on neighborhood and school communities through a simple solution: helping children walk and bike to school via safe routes,’ according to the SRTS website. … Yet a program the state and federal government market as a way to improve school safety and fight childhood obesity masks what in reality often amounts to another public works program championed by former Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar. Each year, SRTS honors the former chairman of the House Transportation Committee by awarding the James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award to one lucky participant.Since the inception of SRTS in 2005, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has handed out more than $11 million to scores of schools and communities statewide, including $768,000 just last month. While most federal transportation programs require at least 15-20 percent in local matching funds, Safe Routes to School grants are a blank check from the U.S. Treasury.” Just a thought from left field here, but does TV news have any role in parents’ reluctance to let their kids walk or ride their bikes to school?

In a vaguely similar vein … Rupa Chenoy of MPR writes: “A coalition designing a plan for art along the Central Corridor light rail line is planning four public meetings this week. Public Art St. Paul is among many the groups behind the Central Corridor Public Art Plan. President Christine Podas-Larson says the meetings will be a forum for artists to learn what social, environmental and other issues residents want reflected in art. … The first meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Wilder Center in St. Paul. Meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday will be in Minneapolis, at the Brian Coyle Center and at University Lutheran Church of Hope. A meeting on Thursday will be at the McNally-Smith College of Music in downtown St. Paul.” Just … please… no more faux Keith Haring.