Health News Today – Oct. 1, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • State congressional delegation requests meeting with VA secretary
  • Blue Cross and Medica join Bloom Health’s online insurance exchange
  • Novu and Delta Dental team up to engage with members
  • Public database reveals 546,000 doctors received $3.5 billion from drug and device makers
  • Mayo opens new Sports Medicine Center in Minneapolis


Delegation demands meeting with VA Secretary (

Minnesota’s 10 member congressional delegation wants a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald about the status of an internal investigation on whether the Minneapolis VA falsified records about veterans wait times, part of a pattern of behavior congressional investigators have found at other VA health systems around the country.   Read More…


Blue Cross, Medica join Bloom Health’s new online insurance market (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

In a sign that online exchanges are becoming an increasingly popular way to sell health insurance, the state’s two largest insurers will join a single private exchange and compete head to head for employers’ business.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Medica plan to sell a suite of health plans through an online marketplace developed by Minneapolis-based Bloom Health, in what was described Tuesday as a first-of-its-kind arrangement in the state.  Read More…

Novu and Delta Dental team up to engage members (News Release)

Novu today announced that Delta Dental of Minnesota, one of the largest providers of dental benefits in the Upper Midwest, serving 7,500 Minnesota-based employer groups and 3.8 million members nationwide, will leverage the Novu platform to effectively engage their members in their own health through Novu’s combination of technology, community, content and rewards. The new offering will be delivered as a Delta Dental of Minnesota-branded experience.   Read More…

Database debuts detailing financial links between physicians and drug/device firms (Kaiser Health News and Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Consumer advocates have pushed for years for this kind of government database in an effort to protect against physicians’ conflicts of interest, to safeguard patient care and to prevent unnecessary costs to public health programs.  

Over protests from doctors and industry, the federal government for the first time Tuesday began to detail the billions of dollars that physicians and teaching hospitals receive from companies that sell medical equipment and drugs. The newly public data cover 4.4 million payments during the last five months of 2013 that totaled $3.5 billion. Fridley’s Medtronic Inc. appeared to be the biggest payer in Minnesota, with more than $10 million in spending just from its spinal and vascular divisions. St. Jude Medical in Little Canada spent just over $3 million.  Read More…

Mayo Clinic’s Sports Medicine Center opens in Minneapolis (

The Mayo Clinic’s new Sports Medicine Center is celebrating its opening in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday.

Dr. John Finnoff with the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center was one of the people instrumental in bringing the facility to the Twin Cities. The facility is open to people of all ages and athletic abilities.  Read More…

Health News Today – Sept. 29, 2014

Today’s health news headlines include:

  • MNsure users to get early look at 2015 premium rates
  • Mental health and chemical dependency needs on the rise
  • Nursing homes look to fill funding gaps with tax levies


Minnesota prepares to release early snapshot of MNsure health insurance premiums for 2015 (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The state Commerce Department is preparing to release an early snapshot of 2015 premium rates for policies that will be sold on Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, MNsure.

The data should give Minnesota consumers an idea of how much their insurance will cost them next year, how the state’s rates will stack up against the rest of the country, and whether any new health plans will offer policies through MNsure. The department will most likely release the information sometime this week, spokeswoman Anne O’Connor said.   Read More…


Needs increasing for those with mental illness, chemical dependency (Mesabi Daily News)

Itasca County is seeing an ever increasing need for resources for people with mental illness and chemical dependency issues.

During the regular meeting of the Itasca County Board on Sept. 23, commissioners heard a report from IMCare Division manager Brett Skyles who presented data on drug costs and services used by member families and children for mental illness. Skyles showed that pharmacy costs to the county have gone up more than $40,000 when comparing the first half of 2013 with the first half of 2014. There are about 500 more families, children and seniors utilizing IMCare pharmacy services for mental health using the same year comparison.   Read More…


Nursing homes look to plug funding gap (Tower Timberjay)

More nursing homes are relying on local taxes to plug a statewide gap in funding for senior care facilities.

For the past five years, the Cook-Orr Area Healthcare District has helped sustain its nursing home with a local levy and now Ely’s Boundary Waters Care Center is considering a similar approach.   Read More…



Health News Today – Sept. 26, 2014

Today’s health headlines:

  • Clinical trials lead to better patient outcomes at U of M Medical Center
  • Public health care funding – more transparency needed
  • LifeScience Alley selects med-tech presenters for annual showcase


A launchpad for innovations in heart health (Minnesota Medical Foundation)

Before a new drug or medical device can be made available to patients, it must go through lengthy and stringent testing through a clinical trial to make sure it’s safe and effective.

While these studies do carry some risk, they offer access to tomorrow’s treatments right now. Because the products being evaluated in clinical trials are still considered experimental, the Lillehei Clinical Research Unit’s physicians and research coordinators must conduct their work according to international standards.   Read More…


MN admin commissioner: OLA must disclose health care audit contracts (TCDailyPlanet)

Minnesota’s public health care programs are cost-intensive enterprises, utilizing roughly $3 billion in state funds on a bi-annual basis. These monies flow from the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS), to non-profit Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), and finally to health care providers for patient care.

Just how these funds are utilized by the state – and by the HMOs that ultimately distribute them – has been the subject of ongoing controversy since 2010.   Read More…


Minnesota med-tech firms chosen for annual showcase (Twin Cities Business Monthly)

A 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton and a spinal fusion system will be among the headliners when LifeScience Alley’s New Technology Showcase returns in November.

This week, the St. Louis Park-based medical trade association unveiled the 10 companies —three of which will host presentations—chosen for spotlight at the Nov. 19 event inside the Minneapolis Convention Center. LifeScience says it selected presenters and exhibitors based on the novelty of their technology, market potential and ability to improve patient outcomes while lowering per capita health care costs.   Read More…



Health News Today – Sept. 25, 2014

In health news today:

  • State legislative auditor accuses MNsure of placing people on Medicaid plans
  • Dept. of Health report shows racial structuralism in some health practices
  • Mankato doctor gets MMA’s Distinguished Service award
  • Pill thieves strike pharmacies


MNsure accused of placing people on Medicaid who don’t qualify (KSTP-TV)

The Minnesota Legislative Auditor’s Office has confirmed it is investigating complaints that allege MNsure placed people on Medicaid, which provides medical assistance to low-income people, who don’t qualify.

Medicaid is a taxpayer-funded program that costs Minnesotans $2 billion every year.   Read More…


An evolving approach to collaborations among health and other sectors (

Much evidence exists on the potential for prevention and health promotion to decrease the burden of chronic diseases. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), for example, has issued many reports with recommendations to use population-based and individual prevention programs and policy and legal interventions to improve diets, increase physical activity, and stop tobacco use.   Read More…


Orthopedic and fracture clinic doctor receives Minnesota Medical Association award (Mankato Free Press)

The Minnesota Medical Association has given a Mankato orthopedic surgeon its highest honor.

Dr. Paul Matson of The Orthopedic & Fracture Clinic received the association’s Distinguished Service Award at its annual conference last week in Brainerd. The association gives the award to a physician who has made outstanding contributions to medicine and the association during his or her career.   Read More…


Pharmacy burglaries are on the rise (

Two men took extreme measures to get their hands on prescription drugs but were caught red handed.

Mason Remund and Jordan Larson dressed up as construction workers and walked into the Sunmart store in Moorhead around 2:00 Wednesday morning, while construction crews were working on a store remodel.   Read More…



Health News Today – Sept. 24, 2014

In health news today:

  • Community health assessment helps Rice County focus on health issues
  • Mayo’s Destination Medical Center leaders tour U.S. to see economic development projects
  • Why PreferredOne pulled out of MNsure


Rice County Public Health reveals top 10 pressing health issues (Faribault Daily News)

Rice County is looking to tackle the top health issues that surfaced while conducting its community health assessment.

The CHA, which began in the spring of 2013 and is required to be done every five years, identified the health status and specific health needs in Rice County. The assessment was conducted in collaboration between Rice County Public Health, HealthFinders Collaborative, Northfield Hospital & Clinics, District One Hospital, Carleton College and the Minnesota Department of Health.   Read More…


Destination Medical Center leaders will travel to 5 U.S. cities (Rochester Post-Bulletin)

Destination Medical Center leaders and planners will travel to five major U.S. cities this week and next in order to see economic development projects that can help them make decisions about future DMC development in Rochester.

DMC Corp. and Economic Development Agency board members, as well as DMC staffers, will be on the trips.   Read More…


Why PreferredOne pulled out of MNsure (Minnesota Public Radio)

Early next month, the state Commerce Department will reveal next year’s premium rates for plans to be sold on MNsure, Minnesota’s health insurance exchange. But the insurer with the lowest prices and most customers on MNsure won’t be on the list next time around.

PreferredOne announced last week that it’s dropping out of the insurance exchange. It said selling insurance through MNsure was not sustainable.   Read More…




Health News Today – Sept. 23, 2014

Health news headlines today include:

  • MNsure rates unlikely to change for Winona-area
  • Medtronic may lose on inversion plan
  • VA record shows vet rescheduled appointment after his death
  • State health commissioner appointed president of association


MNsure changes likely won’t affect Winona-area rates (Winona Daily News)

News of a major health insurance provider pulling out of Minnesota’s healthcare exchange might have rattled parts of the state, but it likely won’t have much effect in the Winona region.

PreferredOne’s decision to back out of MNsure, the insurance marketplace the state created in response to the new federal health care law, won’t send anyone in the area scrambling to line up a new plan — the Minnesota-based provider didn’t offer plans in southeast Minnesota. Read More…

U.S. rule targets Medtronic tax-free use of foreign cash (Bloomberg News)

Medtronic Inc. (MDT), the Minnesota-based medical device maker that’s planning to take an Irish tax address, may become one of the biggest losers under rules announced by the Obama administration.

Among the likely winners is Horizon Pharma Plc (HZNP), which just last week completed an address change, known as an inversion, from Illinois to low-tax Ireland.   Read More…

VA records show veteran rescheduled appointment after death (

According to official medical records, a former Minnesota Marine apparently contacted the Minneapolis VA from his grave to cancel an existing appointment and reschedule it.   

Jordan Buisman’s family believes his medical records were falsified to hide serious delays in patient care at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center.   Read More…

Minnesota health commissioner tapped to lead national health coalition (

Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger has been elected to be president-elect of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the national organization representing the lead state health officials from all 50 states and other jurisdictions around the country.   Read More…

Health News Today – Sept. 22, 2014

In health news today

  • Brooklyn Center schools offer free health services to students
  • Minn. Department of Health receives 29 letter of intent to grow pot
  • Ecumen and MnSCU partner to improve rural senior health care


To fight achievement gap, Brooklyn Center focuses on student health (

In an effort to cut the minority achievement gap, the Brooklyn Center school district is offering free health care services to its students and other children.

It’s part of a small nationwide movement spurred by education advocates who say adding health care services to schools can help people in disadvantaged communities, Minnesota Public Radio News reported (   Read More…


Health department receives 29 letter of intent from would-be medical marijuana manufacturers (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The Minnesota Department of Health said Friday it has received 29 letters of intent from people interested in growing medical marijuana, the first official step in selecting medical cannabis manufacturers under the state’s new program.

Friday was the deadline for companies to submit a letter of intent. Applications are due Oct. 3.   Read More…


Ecumen partners with universities to address rural senior care shortages (

A new $1.9 million grant to address a rural senior care shortage in Minnesota aims to attract students to the field of senior living before they graduate.

Ecumen, a non-profit senior housing provider that operates in many rural Minnesota communities, and the statewide system of Minnesota State College and Universities (MnSCU) are collaborating to introduce students to senior living through a new workforce development initiative called Ecumen Scholars, to be funded by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grant over the next two years.   Read More…


Health News Today – Sept. 19, 2014

Today’s health news headlines include:

  • Enterovirus confirmed in Minnesota
  • New hospital/clinic about to open in Thief River Falls
  • What contagious diseases are the deadliest


Lab tests confirm D68 enterovirus in Minnesota (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

An unusually harsh strain of enterovirus has been detected in Minnesota and linked to a buildup of children suffering breathing problems and clogging pediatric hospitals, the state health department reported Wednesday.

Lab tests confirmed that enterovirus D68 had infected at least one Minnesota child, who received hospital care for respiratory illness and is now recovering at home. The state is among at least 13 where the virus has spread. More than 130 illnesses, all involving children in the United States, have been linked to the virus, which is an unusual strain that is typically associated with summer colds.   Read More…


Sanford hospital, clinic nears opening in Thief River Falls (

A new $60 million, 136-square-foot hospital and clinic is close to opening in Thief River Falls.

The Sanford Thief River Falls Medical Center, located along Minnesota Highway 32 on the south end of this Pennington County city of 8,600, includes a 25-bed critical access hospital, a clinic with more than 30 specialties, an emergency department/urgent care center, pharmacies, a rehabilitation department and more.   Read More…


Which contagious diseases are the deadliest (

No one knows what the death toll in the Ebola epidemic will be. As of Tuesday, nearly 2,500 people have died and nearly 5,000 have caught the virus, the World Health Organization says.

So how does this epidemic compare with the toll taken by other contagious diseases?   Read More…



Health News Today – Sept. 17, 2014

In today’s health news headlines:

  • Low-rate insurer PreferredOne waves goodbye to MNsure
  • Adrian Peterson has advocated for childrens’ health and well-being
  • CentraCare cuts ties with Humana citing claim denial practices
  • Minn. Medical Association hosts annual meeting at Gull Lake resort


PreferredOne pulls out of MNsure (Minnesota Public Radio)

The insurer with the lowest rates and most customers on Minnesota’s health care exchange is pulling out.

Golden Valley-based PreferredOne this morning confirmed its exit from MNsure. It comes as a major blow to the exchange — the next open enrollment period starts Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 15.   Read More…


Adrian Peterson was a ‘champion’ of kids health last year (USA Today)

Adrian Peterson, facing an indictment after whipping his 4-year-old son with a tree branch, was raising money and awareness in the fight against child abuse a year ago.

Peterson’s The All Day Foundation advocates for the health and well-being of kids and partnered with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota for a fundraiser last fall.   Read More...


CentraCare cuts ties with Humana Medicare Advantage (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

CentraCare Health System will end its participation in Humana’s Medicare Advantage plan effective Jan. 1.

The St. Cloud-based health provider made the change because it shares many of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson’s concerns about Humana’s practices, a CentraCare spokeswoman said.  Read More…


MMA conference is Friday, Saturday at Madden’s (Brainerd Dispatch)

The Minnesota Medical Association’s annual conference is expected to draw more than 150 doctors-in-training, doctors and national experts to discuss a variety of topics Friday and Saturday at Madden’s on Gull Lake.

Topics will be addressed include delivering health care services via technology, the future of Minnesota’s health care workforce, digital innovations in medicine and preventing burnout in health care professionals.   Read More…





Health News Today – Sept. 15, 2014

Today in health news in Minnesota:

  • Dept. of health educates community about Ebola virus
  • Physicians get early look at new $160M University of Minnesota health clinic/surgery center
  • Learn to live well, one minute at a time
  • Mental health law pushes system to crisis point


Minnesota health official educate community about Ebola (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The Ebola virus ravaging West Africa remains unlikely to appear in Minnesota, home to more than 30,000 people of Liberian descent.

Local health officials Sunday repeated earlier assurances that Twin Cities residents are not at risk of contracting the disease from recent immigrants or imported foods and merchandise.   Read More…

A first glimpse for physicians of University’s new med care center (

With a little more than a year until its grand opening, the site of the University of Minnesota’s upcoming ambulatory care center looks like a skeleton of its future self.

Hard hats, caged lights and dangling wires dot the concrete floors and empty steel frames that will eventually be home to a training, research and health care facility.   Read More…


Living a well-balanced day, one minute at a time (

As our minutes of daylight decrease each day as we approach the new season, it is an opportune time to reflect on how valuable minutes are and how, used wisely, they can contribute to your daily life.

If you feel that your days couldn’t proceed any better than they already are, that’s wonderful! But there can be days (that may turn into weeks, months and even years) when you may feel unorganized and constantly trying to catch up with yourself.   Read More…


New Minnesota law pushes mental health system to crisis point (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Hundreds of people with severe mental illnesses are languishing for weeks or even months without proper medical treatment, in part because of a law that requires state psychiatric facilities to admit some jail inmates ahead of hospital patients, regardless of clinical need or cost.

The longer waits for mental health beds are an unintended consequence of 2013 legislation that was designed to shrink the swelling population of mentally ill people housed in county jails. The law, known as the “48-hour rule,” required inmates to be transferred to a state psychiatric facility within 48 hours after being committed by a state judge.   Read More…