Health News Today – Nov. 20, 2014

Health news headlines today, include:

  • Minnesota health exchange sees spike in visits
  • Nine northern Minnesota health care providers form collaborative
  • Cambridge Medical Center and Allina search for answers


MNsure enrollment process better but not perfect (

Minnesota’s health insurance exchange has seen a spike in consumer visits in its first workweek since open enrollment began last weekend but is handling the load well, officials said Wednesday.

MNsure CEO Scott Leitz told the board of directors there had been no major technical issues and no unplanned downtime since the system went live Saturday morning for its second open enrollment season.   Read More…


Health Collaborative: Hospital to stay independent, but will share services more (Mesabi Daily News)

Fairview Range in Hibbing is among nine northern Minnesota health care providers forming a new collaborative for improving area patient care.

The formation of Wilderness Health was announced Monday in Duluth at a press conference attended by representatives of each of the hospitals, which apart from Fairview includes St. Luke’s in Duluth and smaller hospitals in Bigfork, Cook, Cloquet, International Falls, Moose Lake, Two Harbors and Grand Marais. All of the hospitals will remain independent, but channels will be opened to share information, resources and best practices among each other.   Read More…



Cambridge Medical Center, hospital look toward the future (Isanti County News)

Cambridge Medical Center, and Allina Health overall, are facing a challenging time economically due to how health care reform is changing the way clinics and hospitals must operate.

The Minnesota Nurses Association-CMC contract expired Sept. 30. The MNA and CMC administration have held three negotiation sessions, with the next meeting scheduled in early December with a mediator.   Read More…

Health News Today – Nov. 18, 2014

Today’s health news headlines include:

  • Unsure says it signs up 518 people in first two days of open enrollment
  • Health care workers make plans to travel to Liberia; fight Ebola
  • New Vermillion Clinic opens on reservation


Executive: MNsure signs up more than 500 (

Minnesota’s health exchange MNsure is reporting a generally “glitch free” launch of its open enrollment period. MNsure says it enrolled 518 people over the weekend.

That’s a lot different from a year ago, when the new MNsure site could not handle the volume of consumers during the sign up period.   Read More…


Group of Minnesota health care plan to deploy to Liberia to help in Ebola fight (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

A group of medical responders from Minnesota is planning to go to Liberia to help fight Ebola.

The group includes nurses, doctors, public health experts and others with medical expertise. Some group members include Liberian Americans from the Twin Cities who say they feel compelled to provide health care in their homeland.  Read More…


$7.6 million new clinic opens on reservation (Mesabi Daily News)

A new $7.6 million health and dental clinic in Vermilion will provide convenience and expanded medial services for Bois Forte band members.

The new 11,000-square-foot Vermilion Clinic, which replaces the community’s smaller clinic, has both medical and dental service wings.   Read More…


Health News Today – Nov. 14, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • MNsure prepares for open enrollment
  • 95% of Minnesotans have health insurance
  • Howard Root, CEO of Vascular Solutions, indicted for conspiracy


MNsure officials, consumers hope for smooth open enrollment (

Minnesotans who are in the market for private health insurance can start shopping Saturday on MNsure, the state’s online insurance website.

The state exchange had a disastrous debut a year ago, but agency officials expect the process to go much more smoothly during the second open enrollment period.   Read More…


Minnesota health insurance exchange prepares to launch 2015 open enrollment (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Minnesotans can start shopping for coverage via the state-run health insurance exchange MNsure when its second open enrollment period launches at 8 a.m. Saturday.

MNsure’s main theme this time is: “95 percent of Minnesotans now have health insurance. 100 percent need it.” Here are some things consumers should know as they consider their options for 2015:



CEO charged with conspiring to sell varicose-vein treatment device for unapproved uses (

A federal grand jury in Texas indicted the CEO of Minnesota-based medical device maker Vascular Solutions Inc. Thursday on charges he conspired to sell a varicose-vein treatment device for unapproved uses.

Howard Root, 53, was indicted on nine counts of conspiracy and introducing an unapproved and adulterated medical device into interstate commerce, the Star Tribune reported. The company Root co-founded, Vascular Solutions, also was indicted.  Read More…

Health News Today – Nov. 11, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Teens smoking less. And more.
  • U of M/Mayo z-Lab device could screen diseases in minutes
  • MNsure to offer more health plan options in Steele County


Teens smoking fewer cigarettes, more e-cigs (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Teen smoking in Minnesota has dropped sharply since 2011, but state health officials expressed concern Monday that many young people are turning to e-cigarettes instead.

An estimated 15,000 students have tried e-cigarettes without having tried any traditional tobacco products before, according to results from the 2014 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey released Monday. Overall, 12.9 percent of high-schoolers said they had tried e-cigarettes in the 30 days prior to the survey.   Read More…

Cancer, HIV and heart disease detection in 15 minutes (

Screening for serious illnesses like cancer, HIV and heart disease could one day become part of routine checkups thanks to a handheld device called z-Lab, which can detect an array of ailments using only a single drop of urine or other bodily fluid.

The new, potentially lifesaving technology, which uses sensors on biochips to detect early signs of disease, was developed by the Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing Team — a collaboration between University of Minnesota researchers and engineers, Mayo Clinic doctors and industry partners.   Read More…


MNsure to offer more plans in Steele County; still faces challenges in rural Minnesota (Owatonna People’s Press)

Local residents looking to get health insurance through MNsure should not be in for a sticker shock, according to a state official.

Tim Vande Hey, deputy commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s insurance division, said that any rate increases would be in the single digits at most.  Read More…


Health News Today – Nov. 6, 2014

Health news from around Minnesota:

  • Allina Health plans to cut $100 million in expenses
  • Travelers under health watch as Ebola precautions are implemented
  • Will MNsure work better when open enrollment begins?
  • Med-device tax under scrutiny once again following election


Allina Health cutting jobs; CFO leaving at end of year (Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Allina Health will cut an undisclosed number of jobs as it tries to trim $100 million in expenses.

David Kanihan, a spokesman for Minneapolis-based health system, did not detail how many or what types of positions will be impacted, saying details are still being worked out. He also said hiring plans for 2015 will help offset losses.   Read More…



MN health officials monitoring 48 travelers as Ebola precaution (

Minnesota health officials said Wednesday they are tracking 48 travelers from West Africa for signs of Ebola, a precautionary move taken as part of the state’s new monitoring system.

The travelers arrived in Minnesota from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The Minnesota Department of Health considers them low-risk because they did not have a known exposure to Ebola during their time in those countries.   Read More…


MNsure take two: Will it be any better? (Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

A year after its disastrous debut and with just days to go before a relaunch, MNsure, the Minnesota’s health exchange, still has technical problems.

The Star Tribune reports on the latest report from state technology workers, who told MNsure’s board of directors of remaining glitches but also said that they have “a reasonable level of confidence” that they’ll be able to stamp out problems by the time open enrollment starts Nov. 15.   Read More…


With Republican Senate, many eye device-tax repeal (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Tuesday’s Republican victories in Washington inspired strong optimism among medical device companies in Minnesota and nationwide for a repeal of the 2.3 percent sales tax on their products.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., singled out the medical device tax as one of two deeply unpopular provisions of the Affordable Care Act that would be immediate targets for the new GOP-controlled Senate, along with the mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance.   Read More…




Health News Today – Nov. 4, 2014

It’s Election Day. Go vote with health care policy in mind!

Today’s headlines:

  • U of M asks for $34.5 million from state to help solve health care problems
  • Accurate Home Care gets equity investment from Generation Growth Capital
  • New eye procedure could make reading glasses extinct


U wants state funding for health care (

University of Minnesota health leaders want to tackle the state’s health care shortfalls — but they say they need more state funding to do it.

The University is requesting $34.5 million from the state Legislature in its 2016-17 biennial budget. If allocated, the University says the money would help address shortages of health professionals, improve care for the elderly, strengthen research in chronic diseases and increase the public’s access to health care resources.   Read More…


Accurate Home Care lands investment from Wisc. private equity firm (Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Private equity firm Generation Growth Capital Inc. has invested an undisclosed amount in Accurate Home Care, a growing provider of home health care services.

Amy Nelson, who founded Otsego-based Accurate in 2002 at age 18, will remain CEO of the company and retain an ownership stake in the business. Generation Growth typically invests between $5 million and $10 million in each of its portfolio companies.   Read More…




Health Watch: New eye procedure could make reading glasses extinct (

Whether you love them or hate them, you may need them to read.

“Cheaters,” as they are sometimes called, are those reading glasses you can buy at most drug stores without a prescription.   Read More…


Health News Today – Oct. 31, 2014

Boo! Here’s your health news headlines for Halloween…

  • MN Dept. of Commerce says a NY-based company offers sub-standard health plans
  • Three steps to make smarter fitness goals
  • Home-care worker gets $30,000 judgment


NY-based company offers sub-standard health insurance plans (HometownFocus)

The Commerce Department ordered Patriot Health Inc. to pay a $50,000 civil penalty for misleading consumers who thought they were buying health insurance, only to find out they had actually purchased membership in an association which included a medical discount plan and other non-insurance benefits. The Department has also charged the company with allowing subagents to work in Minnesota without proper licenses or proper approval.   Read More…


Health Watch: Making smart fitness goals (St. James Plaindealer)

You probably read magazine articles or scroll for tidbits on your smartphone about how to work out better, eat smarter or lose those extra pounds. But what are you actually doing about it? Let’s look at three simple, fuss-free steps to get you the results you need.

1. Move beyond the learning phase: While knowledge is a powerful thing, don’t make the mistake of thinking your good intentions count toward a calorie burn.  Read More…


Home-care worker awarded $30,000 in discrimination case (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Baywood Home Care, one of the state’s largest providers of home health care for senior citizens, must pay $30,000 to a home health aide to resolve allegations that she was illegally fired because of a physical disability, in a consent decree approved Wednesday.

Laurie J. Goodnough was allegedly fired in 2011 after two supervisors observed her walking with a cane.    Read More…


Health News Today – Oct. 30, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • $3.3 billion marries Tornier with Wright Medical Group
  • Honeywell employees sue over wellness tests and questions
  • Mental illness conversation with legislators lasts hours in Alexandria


Medical device maker Tornier sold in $3.3 billion deal (Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

Orthopedic-device maker Tornier has been sold to Wright Medical Group Inc. in an all-stock deal worth $3.3 billion, the companies announced Monday.

Memphis-based Wright Medical Group, which makes surgical devices and bone-growth products, will own 52 percent of the combined company’s stock when the deal closes.   Read More…


Honeywell facing lawsuit over health test (

Two Minnesota employees have filed complaints against Honeywell for its wellness program, and the federal government is suing to stop it.

Court documents filed this month say that Honeywell, as part of its 2015 health benefit plan, requires employees and their spouses to take blood and medical tests that check for smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other problems.   Read More…



Funded and functioning mental health services topic of conversation (Pope County Tribune)

Nearly 100 people gathered at the Broadway Ballroom Event Center in Alexandria on Oct. 10 to discuss the current and future condition of mental health services in Minnesota and in the five-county region. Included in the discussion were four Minnesota state legislators and a representative from U.S. Senator Al Frankenís office, who spent a few hours discussing the issues with attendees and listening to the personal stories of individuals whose lives have been affected, in some way, by mental illness.    Read More…


Health News Today – Oct. 29, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Medical research funding at U hits walls
  • New Ebola restrictions are “scientifically based” says Governor Dayton
  • Southern Minnesota gets holiday grief support from Mayo Clinic
  • MNsure mishandles marketing spend, audit finds


Medical research hits walls ( 

Tay Netoff has spent about two decades researching epilepsy. Now, the associate biomedical engineering professor has to shift his research’s focus to Parkinson’s disease, as it’s more likely to secure government funding.

The University of Minnesota’s support from the National Institutes of Health — the world’s largest funder of medical research — has dropped by about 6 percent over the past five fiscal years.   Read More…



Dayton announces new Ebola restrictions (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Medical workers potentially exposed to Ebola while treating patients in West Africa will be confined to their homes for 21 days on returning to Minnesota, state officials said Monday as authorities across the nation continued to seek appropriate safeguards against the deadly virus.   Read More…


Mayo Clinic Health System offers holiday grief support (Janesville Argus)

Dealing with grief is a challenge at any time of the year, but it can be increasingly difficult during the holiday season. To help those who have lost a loved one deal with grief during the holidays, Mayo Clinic Health System offers Grief and the Holidays, a free, 90-minute support program.   Read More…


MNsure mishandled marketing money, audit finds (Bemidji Pioneer)

MNsure’s marketing department approved more than $925,000 in contract work without first obtaining required authorization, according to a financial audit released Tuesday by the state legislative auditor’s office.   Read More…

Health News Today – Oct. 27, 2014

Today’s headlines:

  • MDH to start monitoring travelers from Ebola-affected countries
  • First MNsure renewal notices hit mailboxes; customers surprised
  • CentraCare launches flu vaccine campaign


Minnesota readies for Ebola monitoring (Park Rapids Enterprise)

The Minnesota Department of Health will soon begin monitoring all travelers from Ebola-affected countries.

 The roughly 10 people per week who return here from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will be contacted and monitored for 21 days, the incubation period for Ebola. It will be part of a larger program unveiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   Read More…


Renewal costs may surprises MNsure customers (

Minnesotans who bought policies on the state’s health insurance exchange are starting to get their first renewal notices, and many could be in for a jolt.

Premiums for most of the more than 55,000 individuals signed up for private insurance plans via MNsure are going up.   Read More…


CentraCare Health starts flu vaccination campaign (St. Cloud Times)

CentraCare Health has implemented an influenza vaccination campaign for the coming flu season that requires all health care workers to be vaccinated or to wear a mask when in areas where patients may be present.

The Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health support universal influenza of health care workers because it has proven to decrease the risk of illness and death related to the flu.   Read More…