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Eight health insurers want hefty premium increases in Minnesota

Plus: state officials vote to cut U.S. Steel’s mining fees; cold case solved after 32 years; Kirby Puckett’s old house is up for sale; and more.

Don’t tell me you thought they were ever going to charge less? MPR’s Mark Zdechlik reports, “Eight health insurance companies in Minnesota are proposing double-digit increases in average premiums and some want to raise rates by more than 50 percent, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, for example, wants to raise rates an average of 54 percent on nine plans. The eye-popping proposals to dramatically increase health insurance premiums, most of which are for individuals and family plans, are drawing fire from Republicans and Democrats. Gov. Mark Dayton called the proposed rate increases ‘outrageous’ given that the cost of health care is currently increasing at just 3 percent.” Hey, someone has to pay for that $100 aspirin.

For the Strib, Christopher Snowbeck writes, “The increases are just proposals, and won’t be finalized for several months. They apply only to the market where individuals purchase non-group coverage — roughly 6 percent of the state’s population — and don’t apply to coverage provided through employer groups and government programs. But the filings suggest turbulence in the individual market, which has grown substantially due to changes with the federal Affordable Care Act.”

The AP story says, “Some of the policies will be offered through MNsure, the state health insurance exchange. The proposed increases do not include any potential government subsidies paid to offset the costs. Under the federal Affordable Care Act, rate increase requests of 10 percent or more must be made public months before approval decisions. The proposed rates were posted Wednesday on the federal website Insurers can’t use past losses to justify rate increases; hikes must be based on projected future claims.” So in other words, someone is projecting a new outbreak of the Black Death.

Think of it as a courtesy to an old friend. John Myers in the Duluth News Tribune writes, “Minnesota’s top elected officials voted unanimously Wednesday to cut the fees the state charges U.S. Steel Corp. to mine iron ore on state lands on the Iron Range. The vote is an effort to help the big U.S. steelmaker navigate through tough economic times pushed by a flood of cheap foreign steel and iron ore. The Executive Council—the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor and attorney general—voted to cut the royalty rates for U.S. Steel operations for 15 months, a break that could hit more than $4 million.”

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Also in the News Tribune. Tom Olsen reports on a cold case murder resolved after … 32 years. “Nearly three decades after 83-year-old Leona Mary Maslowski was found murdered in her Virginia home, her family had all but given up hope that her killer would ever be found. But an investigation was thrown into high gear in recent months when forensic technology provided new clues about fingerprints found in Maslowski’s apartment, culminating in the Wednesday arrest of 44-year-old Bruce Wayne Cameron.”

Or, as much as two front row tickets. Prior to last night’s show, Jim Hammerand of the Business Journal was saying, “The University of Minnesota will send the Rolling Stones’ promoter an invoice for more than $500,000 for Wednesday night’s show at TCF Bank Stadium, according to a contract released under Minnesota public records law. Want to rent the Minneapolis on-campus football stadium for a concert? That’s $125,000. Preparing the stadium, staffing it, security and clean-up? That’s another $314,000 that Rolling Stones Zip Code Tour promoter AEG Live will pay, including $60,000 for University of Minnesota Police Department staffing.”

Peel me another, Beulah. Rachel Chazin at KMSP-TV says, “On Monday night, Kelly Steinke of Albertville found a juvenile black widow spider in her bag of grapes from Target, even after washing them with vinegar and baking soda. The grapes were purchased this past weekend in Monticello. ‘I called Target to let them know so they can alert their grape supplier,’ she posted on her Facebook page.  There has been recent attention brought to spiders being found in bags of grapes. Last week, a woman from Michigan was hospitalized after she reached in for a grape and was bitten by an adult black widow.” Black widows and “guests” don’t mix well.

Also from Ms. Chazin. “While responding to a domestic assault call in West St. Paul on Friday, an Inver Grove Heights police officer found a 6-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy intoxicated with injuries — a 4-year-old with bite marks all over, and a 1-year-old with a chipped tooth and broken blood vessels in his eye. The two intoxicated children reported that their stepfather, Oscar Cruz, 28, of West St. Paul, forced them to take shots with him without their mother’s knowledge.” I guess that’s called “rollin’ with yer homies,” huh?

Is it worth $1.25 million to you to own Kirby Puckett’s old house? Michael Rand of the Strib says, “A sprawling lake home in Saint Croix Falls, Wis., which was previously owned by Kirby Puckett and is still owned by the trust of his former wife, Tonya, recently went on the market for $1.25 million. The nearly 4,000 square foot home has five bedrooms, three full baths and two partial baths. It’s gorgeous, but the best part is the room that has a ‘Kirby Puckett Pl.’ sign as well as arcade games (including Donkey Kong). Now that is a room … .”

Also up for sale: The Bod’s Cave. The AP tells us, “The former Twin Cities suburban home of Jesse Ventura is for sale. The 5,100-square-foot Maple Grove house sits on at least an acre and is on the market for $719,000. The house has five bedrooms, five baths, a winding staircase and nanny’s quarters. The former governor and pro wrestler hasn’t lived or owned the home for several years.” Does it have giant murals of Mr. Ventura … in every room?