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Health care CEOs: Senate bill would reverse coverage gains, drive up costs in Minnesota

REUTERS/Aaron Bernstein
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Other than that, it’s great. In the Strib, Glenn Howatt says, “Health legislation moving toward a vote in the U.S. Senate would reverse gains made in insurance coverage and drive up costs for all Minnesotans, the CEOs of two of the state’s largest health care companies said in an interview Thursday. It could also produce job losses and service cutbacks at the state’s hospitals and clinics, and halt reforms that aim to boost quality, improve medical outcomes and cut costs, they said.” 

Saved — for now. Says the Pioneer Press’ Nick Woltman: “The Minnesota Department of Health will temporarily provide funding for a suicide-prevention hotline that was slated to close Friday. MDH has allocated $139,000 of previously awarded federal suicide-prevention funding to maintain a Minnesota branch of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, according to a news release issued Thursday. The hotline is operated out of the Crisis Connection call center run by Oakdale-based nonprofit Canvas Health, which announced earlier this month that it would be forced to shutter the call center for financial reasons,”

A trio of Chicago Tribune reporters say: “A Republican donor and operative from Chicago’s North Shore who said he had tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from Russian hackers killed himself in a Minnesota hotel room days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his efforts, public records show. In a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, which includes a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring.”

Crackdown. An AP story says, “Several Minnesota residents are facing charges of defrauding the state of millions of dollars in health care money as part of a national crackdown. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit Thursday against a Brooklyn Center woman and her daughter for allegedly claiming more fraudulent personal care assistant expenses. The lawsuit says Juanita Swain and Aretina Williams bilked $929,000 in Medical Assistance funding from the state. It follows charges earlier this week against Lillian Richardson and six accomplices in a $7.7 million fraud scheme. Richardson had previously been convicted of Medical Assistance fraud in 2012.”

The judge cuts Universal loose. Says Jeff Baenen of the AP, “A Minnesota judge ruled Thursday that Universal Music Group should be released from a music rights deal with Prince’s estate. Universal struck a deal with the estate in January, but the estate later sought to cancel the deal after Warner Bros. Records claimed it conflicted with a contract it signed with Prince in 2014. Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide granted the estate’s request in a ruling late Thursday. The judge wrote that interpreting the contracts is difficult, and it’s in the best interest of the estate to avoid costly litigation that could result if the deal isn’t canceled.”

And we were almost to the point of no return. Stribber Jeremy Olson reports, “A new measles case in Minnesota, reported just as the recent outbreak seemed to be winding down, has state health officials on alert because it involved a white adult who had visited public places in Hennepin, Ramsey and Carver counties while infectious and who had circulated among several people known to be unvaccinated. Reported Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health, the case brings the total for the current measles outbreak to 79.”

It’s a regular enough sci-fi moment. Says a FOX 9 story, “The crew at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lock and Dam No. 3 on the Mississippi River in Welch, Minnesota had a bit of a bug problem to deal with on Wednesday. It’s mayfly season, and mounds of dead mayflies resembling piles of mulch littered the lock and dam. Every summer, millions of mayflies lay their eggs on the Mississippi River in Minnesota and Wisconsin, creating a swarm that’s big enough to be seen on weather radar. The swarm only lasts about 24 hours before the insects die. According to the National Weather Service, a large mayfly emergence was seen on radar July 11.

This might take a while. Mike Hughlett of the Strib writes, “Aurora, one of Minnesota’s largest solar energy projects, has become a financial and legal morass. Scores of subcontractors have filed a blizzard of claims, saying they were not paid for their work on the $290 million project that was completed last month. One of the attorneys involved estimated that at least $85 million is owed.”

Sorry, NoDak, the tab’s on you. Another AP story says, “The Trump administration has denied a request from Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum for a ‘major disaster declaration’ to help cover some of the estimated $38 million cost to police protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki says the governor was notified in May that the request had been denied. The office didn’t announce the denial until reporters asked about it this week.”

Speaking of His Orangeness, Mark Zdechlik of MPR reports, “James Acker is a Donald Trump supporter deep in Minnesota Trump country. Cass County voted two-to-one for Trump over Hillary Clinton in last fall’s presidential election. Acker and some of his neighbors, however, are not sold on what they’ve heard from Trump and other Republican lawmakers on Medicaid. The federal health safety net plays a crucial role here and many residents are worried now about the GOP’s push to remake health care and how that will affect them and their communities. … Medicaid delivered nearly $93 million to Cass County last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The money provided help to 8,669 people, roughly one out of every three county residents. Two-thirds of recipients were families and children.” Who knew health care was so complicated?

Wait, this wasn’t already a thing? Says Kelly Smith in the Strib, “Starting Friday, boat owners or operators on Lake Minnetonka will be held responsible for any underage drinking that occurs on their boat. The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, which regulates use of the lake, approved the change earlier this month. It will be a misdemeanor for a boat owner or operator to knowingly allow or provide for underage drinking, much like social host ordinances passed by cities that hold homeowners liable.”

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