Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Former DHS medical director calls agency leaders ‘hostile and dismissive’

For the Pioneer Press, Ryan Faircloth reports, “The longtime medical director of Minnesota’s Medicaid program is opening up about problems within the sprawling Department of Human Services, one month after he lost his job. In an open letter to Gov. Tim Walz and state lawmakers Monday, Dr. Jeff Schiff called leaders of the agency’s health care administration ‘hostile and dismissive’ and said they often ignored clinical evidence when making key health care decisions. He called on state leaders to establish a mechanism for ongoing oversight of the agency, which has a nearly $18 billion budget and oversees a range of programs for vulnerable residents.”

The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez writes: “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is offering to buy Rep. Ilhan Omar a ticket to Somalia so she will ‘appreciate America more,’ echoing President Trump’s racist statement that the Minnesota Democrat and three other congresswomen should ‘go back’ to the ‘totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.’ Paul made the remarks in an interview with Breitbart News at last week’s Turning Point USA conference in Washington.”

From the AP and MPR’s Mark Zdechlik: “Republican medical technology executive Kendall Qualls on Monday launched a congressional bid to unseat first-term Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips in a swing suburban district. The Medina resident is executive vice president with PotentiaMetrics, an Austin, Texas-based data analytics company that he has described as ‘a disruptive startup company empowering patients with cancer’ using artificial intelligence.”

For the Forum News Service, Tess Williams tells us, “As the U.S. Department of Justice approves a merger to join two major mobile companies, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said he still has concerns. Ellison joined 13 other attorneys general last month in a multistate attempt to block the T-Mobile and Sprint merger. Though the deal received blessings from the Department of Justice on Friday, July 26, and the Federal Communications Commission last month, the lawsuit will delay proceedings and could still kill the deal entirely. … Nonetheless, the decreased competition could lead to higher prices, fewer jobs and less service, Ellison said.

For Business Insider, David Slotnick reports, “When the CEOs of major US airlines and freight carriers met with President Donald Trump at the White House earlier in July, there was one person conspicuously missing: Delta CEO Ed Bastian. Far from going unnoticed, his absence became a sticking point for the president, according to a new detailed report by NBC News. … Trump ‘repeatedly harped’ on Bastian’s absence and criticized the airline for buying planes from the European planemaker Airbus rather than Boeing, an American firm, NBC said. He was particularly offended by Bastian’s absence because Delta had been so vocal in the fight against the Middle Eastern airlines. ‘The president kept going back to it’, a source who was at the meeting told NBC. ‘There was a lot of yelling.’”

For City Pages, Sarah Brumble writes, “Beer just tastes better with a good boy (or girl) tucked by your feet. This is a fact of life. The folks behind Unleashed: Hounds and Hops understand this, and want Minneapolitans to experience this sense of joy beyond the confines of their homes.  Their motto? ‘Nothing brings people together better than good food, cold beer, and your best friend.’ The uniquely egalitarian bar will be Minnesota’s first combined indoor-outdoor off-leash dog park, tap house, and eatery. The future haven for two- and four-legged friends can be found on East Lyndale, right next to the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market.”

Says an AP story, “A Minnesota man will serve more than three years in prison for faking his own death eight years ago in Eastern Europe to collect a $2 million life insurance policy. Fifty-five-year-old Igor Vorotinov, formerly of Maple Grove, was sentenced for mail fraud Monday in U.S. District Court. Authorities alleged Vorotinov in 2011 arranged for a corpse to be dressed in his clothes and planted his identification on the body before placing it along a road in the former Soviet republic of Moldova.

At MPR, Briana Bierschbach says, “At-home DNA tests promise a lot. There are kits that use your genetic code to find long lost relatives and detect possible diseases early.… But, as these tests become more popular, some groups and lawmakers are starting to wonder: What if your DNA data gets into the wrong hands? … In Minnesota, big players in the genetic testing business — Ancestry and 23andMe — hired lobbying power in May and legislators have drafted bills that they say will tighten consumer protections for Minnesotans submitting their DNA.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 07/30/2019 - 08:17 am.

    I never understood why people would submit their DNA to one of these companies. Their privacy policies are questionable at best. If the government ever gets hold of it then your DNA is entered into their data base along with serial killers and other bad boys and girls. Maybe I watch Law and Order too much.

    Long lost relatives only surface when they want money and as far as susceptible diseases, that is information that you don’t want the insurance companies to get their hands on.

    Watson and Crick are turning over in their graves.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 07/30/2019 - 11:20 am.

      Its kind of like Facebook where people thought they were the customer, but they are actually the product. Once your DNA is out there, you can’t get it back.

      Also, there no such thing as too much Law and Order watching. I binged hours of it during the storms this last weekend.

      • Submitted by richard owens on 07/30/2019 - 11:44 am.

        What should individuals be afraid of with their DNA and phenotypes “out there” in a medical database? Wouldn’t you want your info available to your doctor? Is it the fear that a “pre-existing condition” might be found by an insurer? Am I naive to think these fears are overblown?

        Check out the links in the comment below. It’s possible your fear is unfounded and that it might be closing you off to medical knowledge that could cure you / save your life.

        IMO this is a huge advancement that shouldn’t be so readily dismissed.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 07/30/2019 - 12:46 pm.

          You are incredibly naive to think those fears are overblown. Insurers, employers and anyone else who could benefit can and will use genetic data to discriminate. DNA can predict risk far better than a person’s recall of their health and history.

          Its also quite a different thing to provide your DNA for medical treatment vs genealogy websites. I find Mayo’s actions in spinning off their Biobank absolutely grotesque.

          • Submitted by richard owens on 07/30/2019 - 01:50 pm.

            What a shame the entire field of individualized medicine is off limits to those who have lost all trust, even in venerable institutions and salaried professionals.

            One step forward, 2 mile retreat.

            • Submitted by Pat Terry on 07/30/2019 - 04:27 pm.

              Reading comprehension is your friend.

              Again, there is a difference between using it for medical treatment, which is supposed to regulate the privacy of the information, and genealogy websites, which do not.

              And again, given that Mayo spun that off, I’m not sure I’d trust them until they get their ethics in order.

              • Submitted by richard owens on 07/30/2019 - 05:13 pm.

                It appears my anecdotes may have damaged Mayo’s reputation, at least for you.

                I’m very sorry, as I trust them implicitly and only wanted to point out the good side of individualized medicine by using large data sets we learn much about individuals who are like us, without needing the first-hand experience with their disease or treatment.

                I was very satisfied with their ethical policies.

                [quote] “Specimens are not released to any researcher until the proposed study has undergone a rigorous review and approval process by these committees:

                An Institutional Review Board (IRB), which ensures that all projects are ethical and appropriate.
                The Mayo Clinic Biospecimen Subcommittee of the IRB, which ensures that only the necessary amount of specimen is collected and used and that all specimens are used only for research that has been approved by the IRB.
                The Mayo Clinic Biobank Access Committee consisting of Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists, which reviews each request for specimens and medical information to ensure that it is both appropriate and scientifically valuable. Community members from the Community Advisory Board may be called upon by the Biobank Access Committee when necessary.”
                [end quote]


  2. Submitted by richard owens on 07/30/2019 - 09:27 am.

    Mayo launched their Biobank some years ago. Its purpose was to build a database from blood samples that would be used to do basic research.

    I was assured that my DNA would not ever be used in such a way as to hurt me or any of my progeny (such as telling an insurance company that I was subject to some genetic problem, for example).

    I asked too what they would do if they found something that I should know about. The answer was that a board would review issues that might arise, but chances are my data would not be used for my current care.

    Today, the Biobank has been spun off from the Mayo project, and now can help find the very best drug at the best time that fits the characteristics of the individual’s genetic propensity to metabolize some drugs more, less, or not at all. That allows for the most efficacious drug to be selected with fore knowledge of how the individual will respond.

    Mayo is now building a broader Biobank database in Mississippi, where a wider range of genetic phenotypes can be acquired.

    The new company is called OneOme, and they are in Minneapolis.

    Mayo Clinic Biobank

  3. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 07/30/2019 - 10:37 am.

    With the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max and the scrutiny that brought to regulatory (think Ronald Reagan and Deregulation) practices in the US more and more airline companies, those prefer their costumer survive their flights anyway, will be looking elsewhere for planes. Why take a chance on a plane where the manufacturer “self-Ceritified” the plane, when you can buy one where there is real and proper government oversight?

    Couple that with the reluctance with which the US took the plane out of service and you have a situation where we are no longer trusted to do the right thing. Here at home Deregulation and Profits at all costs make for great politics, not so much on a the global stage.

    When I was a kid in the early sixties, made in Japan was associated with cheap, crappy merchandise. If we continue to let the Party of Deregulation have their way Made In the USA will soon have the same meaning. I guess that assumes we’ll be manufacturing anything here anymore.

    Lastly do CEOs really enjoy being yelled at by Donald? It seems like he does that a lot.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 07/30/2019 - 10:57 am.

      Anyone involved with aviation has safety as their top priority no matter the political persuasion.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 07/30/2019 - 11:16 am.

      Ask yourself this – when they decide that the 737 Max is safe to fly again, are you going to trust them? Are you going to fly on those planes? For me, that’s a very hard no.

      So how do you avoid flying that plane? By avoiding airlines that have them. Delta doesn’t have the 737 Max, so they are fine. But I will never fly Southwest again.

      I think a lot of people are going to make the same calculation. Boeing is in real trouble.

Leave a Reply