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Minnesota hospitals see big decline in cost of charity care under Obamacare

Plus: family friend to face murder charge in death of 5-year-old; Metallica concert at U.S. Bank stadium was really, really loud; why Target’s bathroom policy might not be bad business; and more.

REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Modest. But significant. Christopher Snowbeck of the Strib says, “As health insurance coverage has expanded under the federal health law, hospitals in Minnesota have seen a significant decline in costs to cover free and discounted care. The 10 largest hospital systems in the state last year spent about $236 million on what the industry calls charity care — a decline of $43 million, or 15 percent, from 2013, according to a Star Tribune analysis.”

The Strib editorial board concurs with the Center of the American Experiment’s recent study depicting a grim state of the state economy. “It will be a shame if the new report on the Minnesota economy by the right-leaning Center of the American Experiment is dismissed in DFL quarters as partisan propaganda. To be sure, the center’s orientation is pro-Republican. But that does not mean that the report it commissioned and the trends it highlights do not warrant bipartisan attention.” I’m sure they’ll all work together.

Here’s the Strib’s Paul Walsh on the abduction and murder of 5-year-old Alayna Ertl. “Alayna was last seen when she was put to bed at 2 a.m. Saturday. At 8 a.m. her mother, Kayla Ertl, discovered she was missing, according to an Amber Alert issued by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). [Zachary T.] Anderson, who was staying over at the Ertls’ home that night, was also gone — along with a pickup truck belonging to the girl’s father, Matt Ertl, the alert read. Nine hours later, authorities found Alayna’s body in Cass County by Wilderness Park, outside Motley.”

Mary Divine’s story in the PiPress says, “Cass County sheriff’s deputies found the truck on property owned by Anderson’s family in rural Cass County. No one was inside the vehicle or a cabin on the property located in the 4900 block of Iroquois Trail Loop SW in the southern portion of Wilderness Park Estates, a residential park located about three miles east of the village of Leader in Cass County. The park is about 100 miles north of the Ertls’ house in Watkins. Additional law enforcement personnel were brought into the area to search. K-9 officers found Anderson about 4:24 p.m. in a wooded area about a quarter-mile from the cabin. He didn’t attempt to run, didn’t have a weapon and didn’t resist arrest. Based on information Anderson provided, investigators found Alayna’s body about 5 p.m. Saturday in a swampy wooded area a few yards from the cabin. She was pronounced dead at the scene.”

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Here’s another story from Divine. “When Scott Masterton’s GoPro camera ended up at the bottom of Lake Superior during a scuba dive trip Sunday, he thought it was lost forever. The Blaine man didn’t count on the eagle eyes of Jim Anderson, a volunteer diver with the Washington County sheriff’s office water recovery team, which was training at the Madeira shipwreck on Sunday. Anderson, 50, of Forest Lake, brought the camera to the surface. … ‘The odds are astronomical,’ said Masterton, who drove to Stillwater on Wednesday to retrieve his treasure. ‘We were down 110 feet. It’s pitch-black down there.” That’s gotta be some great video.

And how is the sound at our billion-dollar stadium? Says Chris Riemenschneider of the Strib, “Seated in Sec. 230 midway between the stadium floor and the nosebleed seats, Stillwater couple Lacey and Jim Moses also had a money-related reaction during the kickoff concert at the new Minneapolis stadium. The Stillwater couple had trouble even understanding Bryan and the other performers when they talked. ‘It seems like the acoustics are really bad for the price,’ Lacey Moses said, referring to the $250 the couple paid for their two tickets and the $11.50 beer in her hand, not the $1 billion construction costs.” 

For WCCO-TV, Kate Raddatz says, “On Twitter fans also talked about the long lines. One fan called the acoustics ‘subpar.’ Sky-high parking rates were also a complaint. Event parking at the Metrodome was around $15, but now it costs $25.” Of course, I suggest Personal Acoustic Licenses.

And how loud was Metallica?  Ross Raihala of the PiPress says, “It wasn’t just the 49,000 or so fans inside the football stadium who weathered the band’s monstrous, crushing riffs. Neighbors from more than a mile away reported via Twitter that they could hear the concert – which took place in an indoor stadium – inside their house. Many fans complained about poor sound during Friday night’s Luke Bryan concert … . That stopped once Metallica began playing. So overwhelming was the band’s wall of sound, it was tough to do much beyond submit to it.”

Here’s Walsh again on a classic example of a guy who should get his license pulled. “A motorist purposely rammed another vehicle twice on a road in western Minnesota, sparking a police chase that led to the suspect’s highly resisted arrest. Curt M. Craven, 32, of Miltona, Minn., remained jailed Sunday in Douglas County on suspicion of assault, drunken driving, reckless driving and other charges. The drama began in Alexandria … when a driver told 911 that someone in a truck ‘intentionally rear-ended’ him twice, according to police.” I mean, I could understand it if it was over a parking space in Uptown, but come on!

Here’s another reason why you don’t harrass and spit on Trump folks, as protesters are accused of doing at a Minneapolis fundraiser Friday night. Jazz Shaw at the conservative site Hot Air writes, “Does anyone really believe this is an isolated incident? I suppose they might if they restrict their news consumption to one or two cable channels, but the reality out on the streets is quite different. I don’t know if all of these folks are all pro-Hillary liberals, #NeverTrump spoilers or a mixture of the two, but the result is the same.” People, they’re melting down just fine on their own.

Finally, more data on Target’s bathroom policy. At Seeking Alpha, Mat Litalien says, “Many of the articles and comments relating to Target’s (NYSE:TGT) bathroom policy which allows transgender individuals to utilize the bathroom of their choice, or in which they self-identify, have been fairly negative. … I’ve seen calculations and those estimating that the impact to Target’s earnings could be as high as $5-10 billion in lost sales annually. Unfortunately, most of this is pure speculation and I’ve yet to see any analysis that might take into account how loyal the LGBT community are to each other. … 70% of LGBT adults stated they would pay a premium for a product from a company that supports the LGBT community. … 78% of LGBT adults and their friends, family and relatives would switch to brands that are known to be LGBT-friendly.”