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UCare sues state over health-plan changes

Plus: Minnesota at forefront of radical online education experiment; a roundup of local theater leadership changes; key CHS Field lobbyist also sells beer there; and more.

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Not so fast, Minnesota. In the Pioneer Press, David Montgomery reports, “Health insurer UCare, which lost big in Minnesota’s recent competitive bidding for its Medicaid and MinnesotaCare health customers, has filed a lawsuit to change that ruling. … ‘We believe that despite the state’s best intentions it acted improperly and contrary to law in deciding to exclude UCare,’ UCare’s general counsel Mark Traynor said in a statement. … UCare is seeking an emergency injunction in Ramsey County District Court asking the state to let public plan enrollees choose UCare in the upcoming open enrollment.”

Minnesota is at the forefront of a radical new experiment with online education. For The Atlantic, Rachel Monahan reports on a new program some have described as‘school choice on steroids.’ Estimates suggest that at least 10 states have adopted policies that allow students, most of them in high school, to take classes part-time online (and sometimes in off-campus classrooms), courtesy of a variety of providers they can choose from, including charter schools and other districts. Collectively, these policies are often referred to by advocates as ‘Course Access’ or ‘Course Choice.’ The idea behind the programs is to expand students’ options beyond the limited offerings available on their campuses or at one state virtual school. And the Course Access movement has been gaining momentum nationwide, with eight states adopting or considering such laws in just the last four years, according to a report on Course Access.” 

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The New York Times checks in with the young Turks of the Minnesota theater scene. Dominic P. Papatola writes, “At about the same time that Joseph Haj, the new artistic director of the Guthrie Theater, was getting a first panoramic glimpse of the Mississippi River from his office last month, new leaders were settling into the long-occupied bosses’ chairs at a handful of other significant theaters in the Twin Cities. … The arrival of younger principals to replace the 60- and 70-something men who have steered the local scene for a generation could bring with it an opportunity to refashion, even repurpose theater-making here and beyond.

Come to think of it, a steady supply of beer would be a pretty good asset for a lobbyist. At the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo profiles Julian Loscalzo: “A ballpark beer vendor who grew up outside Philadelphia, a stone’s throw from the airport. … He swears when he’s happy. He swears a lot. … ‘I was a blue-collar, working-class kid, one of the first in town to go to college. You know how that is,’ he said. … Besides working as a beer vendor, Loscalzo manages the St. Paul end of a friend’s bicycle-taxi business and leads ballpark tours around the country. … Somehow, he finds time to lobby at the state Capitol. Loscalzo is a registered lobbyist for a women’s shelter, a handful of nonprofit and economic-development organizations and the St. Paul Saints baseball team.”

In other news…

Bird flu might have been hard on farmers, but Hormel did OK. [MPR]

Playboy calls Minneapolis nation’s 14th sexiest city. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

A big steelworker rally is planned in Virginia this afternoon. [Duluth News Tribune]

The Birchwood Cafe’s Marshall Paulsen was tapped to cook for Woody Harrelson when he was in town filming recently. [Star Tribune]

Pretty cool video of tow trucks righting an overturned semi on I-94 in St. Paul this morning. [YouTube]

“Dolores Anderson of Roseville has won 841 state and county fair ribbons” [Pioneer Press]