It’s what America needs. Bigger health companies. The Strib story by Jackie Crosby says: “Two of the Twin Cities’ most prominent health care systems, HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, have signed an agreement to merge operations, the Star Tribune has learned. The deal, which is subject to federal approval, marks the biggest consolidation in the Twin Cities health care market in a decade or more. … Bloomington-based HealthPartners operates an insurance plan and 70 medical and dental clinics in the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin, as well as Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The hospital is a major trauma center and teaching hospital, and the second largest provider of charity care in the state. With combined revenues from its plans and clinics of $3.58 billion in 2010, an increase of nearly 6 percent over 2009, HealthPartners is the fourth-biggest nonprofit in the state by revenue. Park Nicollet, with headquarters in St. Louis Park, is a much smaller organization, but is financially stable. It operates Methodist Hospital as well as 26 clinics and the Melrose Institute for eating disorders. In 2010, Park Nicollet reported $1.23 billion in revenue, about the same as the year before. It is the state’s ninth largest nonprofit and sixth largest health care system.”
At MPR, Rupa Chenoy says: “The move puts HealthPartners and Park Nicollet among a growing trend of strategic partnerships between insurers and hospitals, said Director Stephen Parente of the U of M’s Medical Industry Leadership Institute. ‘My sense is this is the first of other types of alliances and partnerships that will occur not just in the Twin Cities but nationally,’ he said. ‘This actually sort of is a peek at the future of what a combination of these payers and delivery systems combined is going to look like. ‘ “
Big of him … . The AP is reporting: “In legal papers filed Thursday, the two sides agreed that [Michael] Brodkorb would drop several invasion-of-privacy claims related to media reports that he had filed unsuccessfully for unemployment benefits. His attorney, Phil Villaume, said he and his client decided to narrow the lawsuit to the defamation and gender discrimination claims. Brodkorb has claimed that he was unfairly treated because female Senate staffers carried on affairs without being punished.”
Well, at least one guy is pleased with that police license plate data collection system. Eric Roper of the Strib says: “A South St. Paul car dealer used Minneapolis license plate tracking data to find and repossess a car in South Minneapolis Thursday, likely the first time the records have been used by a business in Minnesota. Jake Ingebrigtson, co-owner of Car and Credit Connection, sought information on four cars … . Ingebrigtson’s company sells cars to people with bad credit, and the owners of the cars had stopped making payments. Minneapolis has 10 license plate readers, most of them mounted on police and traffic cars, that scan thousands of license plates a day and store their location. The city has captured 4.9 million plates in 2012 alone. … It’s not the first time Ingebrigtson, 33, has made a surprising find. He has twice found the St. Paul Winter Carnival medallion.”
Hey, folks, go easy on the collared bear … The Duluth News Tribune says: “Hunters participating in Minnesota’s bear season that begins Saturday are being asked not to shoot radio-collared research bears. While it’s not illegal to shoot the bears, the Department of Natural Resources is asking that hunters take a pass. The bears are marked with large colorful ear tags or colorful streamers and are important for ongoing bear research, both by the DNR and by independent bear advocate Lynn Rogers of Ely.”
On the ourfuture.org blog, Rob Levine lays out a fairly comprehensive argument that charter schools’ primary achievement is “beating the test”: “ ‘Odds-beating charter school.’ Those words are like an impenetrable shield for those who operate such places. They are also the holy grail of the education reform movement, which is constantly seeking shortcuts to radically increase measures of educational achievement, which these days is pretty much defined by increased math and language test scores. One problem with radical test score gains, as many researchers have noted, is that miraculous improvements in test scores over short periods of time are more often the result of cheating, student skimming, or other test manipulation. We’ve seen this pattern repeated all over the nation, starting with the so-called Texas Miracle under former US education secretary Rod Paige’s oversight. … In Minnesota, birthplace of the charter school movement, one charter school operator labeled an ‘odds beater’ has put a new twist on the concept. Eric Mahmoud, a former engineer and convicted mortgage fraudster, operates a group of segregated charter schools targeted at black, inner-city poor children that employs longer school days and years, strict discipline, and an unabashed strategy of beating state achievement tests.”
Five firms have submitted their designs for the new Vikings stadium. Richard Meryhew of the Strib says: “Prominent among the firms submitting bids to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority by Thursday’s deadline is Kansas City-based Populous, formerly known as HOK Sport. Populous designed the Twins’ Target Field, which opened to rave reviews in 2010, along with TCF Bank Stadium, home of the football Gophers, and Xcel Energy Center, home to the Wild professional hockey team. The firm also was the architect on more than a dozen Major League Baseball stadium projects, including Baltimore’s Camden Yards and Pittsburgh’s PNC Parks. … Finalists will appear at a public forum at the Metrodome at 5 p.m. Sept. 6 to show off their resumés. Stadium renderings and plans won’t be unveiled to the public, however, until an architect is picked, Mondale said. That decision is expected to be announced at the authority’s Sept. 14 meeting.” Lucas Field in Indianapolis is a faux gothic monstrosity, IMHO.
Out at the Fair, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and GOP challenger Kurt Bills mixed it up. Rachel Stassen Berger of the Strib writes: “After an hour’s joint appearance, hosted by Minnesota Public Radio, the Republican challenger did not manage to poke her off message but did get under her skin as he repeatedly hammered her and his fans booed her during the forum that was as heated as the 90-plus-degree day. Although she has spent much of the campaign ignoring her opponent, she got right in the mix with him during their debate. … Bills, a first term state representative, held his own. ‘This election is really not Republican vs Democrat anymore; it is America vs. Washington, DC,’ he said to cheers.”
Meanwhile, Our Favorite Congresswoman is still delivering good quotes in Florida. As Aaron Rupar at City Pages’ notes: “Asked by a reporter how wealthy politicians can relate to the plight of everyday Americans, Michele [Bachmann] somehow thought it would make sense to suggest that President Obama’s wealth makes it hard for him to understand ‘the common man.’ Of course, she forgot to mention that the presidential candidate her own party endorsed, Mitt Romney, is ‘by a long shot one of the wealthiest self-made men to ever run for president’ in the words of New York Magazine. …
Reporter: You’ve outlined all the problems in the US, in the economy, and then there are those who say, ‘How can someone with that kind of vast wealth really connect with the American public, really understand what the plight of the American public is?’
Bachmann: Well, President Obama is extremely wealthy. He and his wife have been wealthy for a number of years, and so I think that’s really the issue. President Obama is wealthy, what do, or — what does he understand about the common man right now? And I think what people care about is not hating someone for what their assets are — the American people don’t hate President Obama because he’s a very wealthy individual. What they care about is how their lives are, would their lives be better? And I think it’s very clear under the Romney-Ryan ticket the average Americans’ lives [sic] will be much better, they’ll have a lot more money to spend in the way that they want, and they’ll also have a much more secure future for their children.” I love that woman.