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Survey: rural clinics and doctors offer better patient care coordination

Plus: federal court keeps gray wolves on endangered list; state Rep. Newberger considers run against Klobuchar; DFL state Rep. fined by campaign finance board; and more.

I hope this isn’t suggesting less bureaucracy delivers better outcomes. Says Jeremy Olson in the Strib, “Rural medical clinics coordinate patient care better than Twin Cities clinics, on average, according to a new Minnesota survey that suggests small facilities and do-it-all small-town doctors still offer advantages in an era of modern medicine. The survey data published Wednesday by Minnesota Community Measurement, a non-profit health care rating organization, showed below-average marks for Twin Cities clinics on care coordination — items such as whether doctors know their patients’ histories before their appointments and call patients afterward about test results or prescription drugs. More than 180,000 patients completed the survey.”

Save the wolves! (The real, four-legged kind.) MPR’s Dan Kraker writes, “Despite objections from Minnesota and other states, a federal appellate court on Tuesday upheld a lower court decision that keeps gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region on the endangered species list. The decision keeps in place current rules surrounding wolves, and blocks states from asserting management control over the species, including the implementation of hunting seasons. In Minnesota, that means wolves, at least for the time being, will continue to be classified as threatened under federal law, meaning Minnesotans cannot legally kill a wolf, except in the defense of human life.” Which to hear talk in outstate bars happens pretty much every other day.

Does he fit in a cannon barrel? Says Rachel Stassen-Berger in the PiPress, “Republican state Rep. Jim Newberger said Tuesday that he is ‘definitely considering’ running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The three-term House member said if he runs, he would provide Minnesotans a voice they have been missing for a nearly a decade, ‘a conservative voice in the U.S. Senate.’ … Newberger, who is vice chair of the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance committee, said energy issues would be a major focus of his campaign, should he run.” Tax cuts for job creators has to be in the fine print somewhere.

Tough on the next election bid. Says Erin Golden in the Strib, “A longtime St. Paul state representative and candidate for state attorney general is facing $20,000 in fines over allegations that he misspent campaign funds and that he did not complete proper reports on his campaign’s finances. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board said Tuesday that Rep. John Lesch, an eight-term DFL representative who was first elected in 2002, did not save receipts for five separate bank transactions and that he filed reports that lacked some required information.” It wasn’t a Russian bank, was it?

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With every developer’s dream now a reality the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bill Glauber tells his readers, “Beyond speeding traffic across a four-lane span, the bridge will likely spur development in a portion of Western Wisconsin that is now more easily within reach of Minneapolis-St. Paul. ‘It has brought us, if you will, closer to the Twin Cities, but it has also strengthened the bond with communities across the river,’ said Bill Rubin of the St. Croix Economic Development Corp.” Start the countdown to the first Panera.

Also from the Journal-Sentinel, Lee Bergquist and Rick Rommell report, “Environmental organizations are raising objections over a legislative package exempting Foxconn Technology Group from regulations if the company agrees to build a $10 billion electronics plant in Wisconsin, but Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday defended the package and said the manufacturer would still have to comply with environmental laws. The measures proposed by the Walker administration exempt the company from state wetlands regulations and an extensive environmental analysis that some other large projects are subject to.”

Always a good idea in theory. MPR’s Solvejg Wastvedt reports, “Minnesota is moving to change the measures it uses to judge school performance, the newest steps in a decades-long quest to measure student success. State officials have drafted a plan that would evaluate schools on five factors: state test scores, how many students move up a level on state tests, graduation rates, progress for students learning English and school attendance. The plan would flag the lowest-performing schools, which would then need to develop improvement plans the state would monitor. … Schools, however, would not receive the single, yearly scores many parents are used to seeing. While many of the evaluation metrics remain the same, they wouldn’t be combined into an overall grade.”

Probably need to manage somewhere else. Stribber Josephine Marcotty writes, “A state plan to harvest a section of beloved old-growth forest near Ely has riled some of the thousands of hikers and skiers who use it each year to experience northern Minnesota as it once was. Foresters for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) describe the plan as routine forest management that would improve the long-term vitality of the woods. Nearby residents, cross-country skiers, and other forest ecologists question the project’s necessity and are urging the DNR to hold off; the parcel includes an extensive trail system that is one of the few ways to get into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on foot.