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Senate deal on health payments could spare Minnesota from steep cuts

REUTERS/Aaron Bernstein

In the Strib, Jennifer Brooks says, “A bipartisan deal in the U.S. Senate could let Minnesota hold down insurance costs on the state exchange without sacrificing millions of dollars in federal funding for low-income health care. Republican and Democratic members of the Senate health committee agreed Tuesday to legislation that would shore up the Affordable Care Act, secure another two years’ worth of federal subsidies to help consumers pay their insurance deductibles, and restore hundreds of millions of dollars to MinnesotaCare.”

More lake debate. MPR’s Matt Sepic writes: “The Hennepin County Board could decide later this year whether to recommend changing the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Mka Ska. Supporters of the move say it’s wrong to honor John C. Calhoun, the nation’s seventh vice president, because he was an ardent supporter of slavery and he drafted the Indian Removal Act. Dozens of people spoke at a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday night. … Of the roughly 30 people who testified Tuesday night, only a half dozen spoke against removing Calhoun’s name, but Linden Hills neighborhood resident Tom Austin said most people who live near the lake want the name Calhoun to remain.”

Sleep in, kids. Solvejg Wastvedt of MPR says, “Middle and high school students in St. Paul’s public schools may be able to sleep later, beginning in the 2019-20 school year. The St. Paul school board voted 5-2 Tuesday on a change to school start times. Under the plan, secondary schools will start at 8:30 a.m. To accommodate this, elementary schools that currently start at 8:30 a.m. will move to a 7:30 a.m. start time. Elementary schools that currently start at 9:30 a.m. will not change.”

“Monster bog” is now a thing. KARE-TV reports, “North Long Lake is a long way from Loch Ness, but the Minnesota lake now has its own monster. ‘There’s never been one ever seen this large before,’ says Bill Schmidt, president of the lake association. A floating bog – the size of three football fields – broke off from shoreline late last week and started wandering. ‘When it was out in the middle of the lake and the wind was blowing, it was just a monster coming at you,’ says Schmidt.”

Legal precedent alert. The AP’s Steve Karnowski writes, “A Minnesota judge has taken the unusual step of allowing four protesters to use a “necessity defense,” enabling them to present evidence that the threat of climate change from Canadian tar sands crude is so imminent that they were justified in trying to shut down two Enbridge Energy oil pipelines last year. … [Emily] Johnston and [Annette] Klapstein, who are from the Seattle area, said Tuesday that as far as their legal team knows, this is the first time that a judge has allowed a full necessity defense on a climate change issue.”

I’ve heard good things. Martin Moylan at MPR reports, “JetBlue will soon start serving the Twin Cities market. The airline will begin flying between Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on May 3. There’ll be three daily round-trip flights between the markets. The airline said it will begin selling one-way fares on Tuesday starting at $89. JetBlue charges checked bag fees, although it waives them for some customers. The airline’s website indicates there’s no charge for carry-on bags.”

Now, American is a different story. A Washington Post story says, “Canadian-born curler Erin McInrue Savage understands her sport isn’t the most popular of athletic endeavors in the United States. But she doesn’t think she should have to make the case that curling is a sport at all. Yet that’s what Savage, a researcher on aging, said she was forced to do last Sunday when an American Airlines employee at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport allegedly balked at allowing her to check her curling broom as sporting equipment. [The agent] said curling isn’t a sport,’ McInrue Savage, 34, said Saturday, a day after posting her exchange in a post that went viral on Facebook. ‘I told her it’s in the Olympics.’”

North Dakota: keeping America safe from aging rockers. Says Andrew Haffner of the Forum News Service, “A pair of nationally known musicians were arrested on marijuana offenses in recent months after their tour buses were stopped at the Canadian border crossing in Portal, N.D., and are facing court appearances in coming days. Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge and rock musician Todd Rundgren were both stopped at the border on separate occasions while returning to the U.S. from engagements in Canada. Rundgren was headed for his appearance at the Bluestem amphitheater in Moorhead, Minn. Both musicians were accused of possessing hash oil, and Rundgren was also accused of possessing drug paraphernalia. Both offenses are Class B misdemeanors.” Another revenue enhancement move.

Denny Hecker returns! Says Dee DePass of the Strib, “Former auto mogul Denny Hecker has been relocated from an Illinois prison to the Duluth Federal Prison Camp, Bureau of Prisons officials confirmed Tuesday. The move, which the bureau published on its website, is the latest in a string of transfers for Hecker, who has served seven years of a 10-year sentence for fraud. Hecker is not due to be officially released from federal custody until July 2018. He has been eligible, based on the release date, to be placed in a halfway house since July 2017, prison officials have said.” 

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Jeffrey Swainhart on 10/18/2017 - 07:14 am.

    Lake Bidet

    I don’t expect my opinion to matter, especially posted on a forum that will disappear by afternoon but here I go.

    I have a hard time with Calhoun’s new name. Something about the language, the unfamiliar association of vowels and consonants. It’s as though we are not only going to change the name but also give everyone a lesson in the Dakota language.

    In my opinion, call it White Cloud lake, or Cloudman Lake. Bde Maka Ska will become Lake Bde before you know it.

  2. Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 10/18/2017 - 10:18 am.

    Lake Wellstone

    I really like the idea that I saw posted last week of re-naming lake Calhoun to honor
    Senator Paul Wellstone.

  3. Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/18/2017 - 11:33 am.

    Is anybody adding this stuff up?

    I’ve tried to keep (rough) tabs on the cost of the recent, relatively massive transfer of taxpayer funds to the MN health insurance industry (and cuts to things like the MN Health and Human Services budget) but it’s getting more blurry all the time . . .

    First their was last year’s $325 million “emergency” bailout of the insurance industry to help them make sure they remained profitable in their “non-group” or “individual market” (a concept and “business model” THEY created that prices insurance on a basis that has nothing to do with anyone’s health but everything to do with ensuring that a small group of people — around 5% — wind up paying mucho extra to make sure the health insurance industry’s Golden Calf — the “group” or “employer” market — remains relatively undisturbed, hypnotized, desensitized, paying like calm clockwork).

    Then there was the Republican bill (the majority of whose authors are insurance agency owners or brokers) that, I believe, promised the state (taxpayers) would spend another $280 million per year for four more years to do the same thing.

    And then came the next Republican-sponsored “reinsurance” bill to further protect insurance companies from any “individual market” losses whatsoever which, near as I can figure, will be costing taxpayers yet another $450 to $500 million (per year? per biennium? per what?).

    One way or another it SEEMS to add up to somewhere around TWO BILLION being transferred from taxpayer’s pockets to the insurance industry . . . I thought the Republican idea — especially when it comes to things like this year’s $460+ million tax cut — is to help taxpayers keep their money in THEIR pockets. So why are they writing and passing so many health care-related laws that do the opposite?)

    And now there’s talk of a bipartisan bill that would take care of all of the above (except that initial $325 million bailout)?

    If so . . . if it passed through Congress and the president signed it . . . would it mean we (taxpayers) wouldn’t need to give the insurance industry an extra $280 million for four years or give them however many hundreds of additional millions (or billions, over time) “reinsurance” would cost?

    Would we “get our money back,” or have our canny Republican legislators written those new laws in a, “So sorry . . . No refunds,” way that ensures the MN insurance industry will get their state (taxpayer’s) money, regardless?

  4. Submitted by Curt Carlson on 10/18/2017 - 07:55 pm.


    Can’t someone find a Minnesota connection to Rory Calhoun so we can leave well enough alone?

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