In The News – Sept. 24, 2013

Today’s health news includes the following headlines:

  • How do I buy health insurance through MNSure?
  • Health Partners’ plan ranks first in state
  • Hospital in International Falls severs ties with Essentia
  • Leech Lake health center gets an award


So how do I buy insurance? A Q&A on MNSure: Minnesota’s new health insurance marketplace (Winona Daily News)

The health insurance marketplaces launching in Minnesota and several other states across the country are one of the Affordable Care Act’s biggest changes to health care policy.

The marketplaces are designed as an easy and effective way to help people buy insurance to satisfy the mandate that requires all Americans to be insured starting next year or pay a penalty.   Read More…


Health Partners’ plan ranks #1 in MN, top 6% in U.S. (

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recently released its annual ranking of 484 U.S. health plans. HealthPartners’ plan ranked first in Minnesota and in the top six percent in the country.

The NCQA—a privately held, Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization—evaluated nearly 1,400 plans throughout the country based on roughly 50 measures of clinical performance and member satisfaction.   Read More…


International Falls hospital, Essentia part ways (Duluth News Tribune)

After spending the past four years as affiliates, the hospital in International Falls and Duluth-based Essentia Health have decided to end the arrangement and go separate ways.

“We concluded that our visions for health care are just so far apart that we don’t see any point in trying to go further at this point,” said Dr. Daniel Nikcevich, president and chief medical officer of Essentia’s east region, which includes its Minnesota and Wisconsin facilities.   Read More…


Leech Lake health center receives award (Brainerd Dispatch)

The Leech Lake Tribal College Wellness Center in Cass Lake was one of several tribal colleges that received awards from the The Northwest Area Foundation.

The college, which received $125,000, provides educational programs and activities to the campus and community, including parenting skills, free child care during study group sessions, free one-on-one counseling sessions with licensed mental health professionals, talking circles led by community elders, family planning education and supplies, free infant and child supplies, nutrition and healthy cooking classes, drug abuse prevention education, a lactation and infant feeding room, a fitness room, a mile-long walking and running path…   Read More…

In The News – Feb. 12, 2013

In health news today, Sen. Kathy Sheran pushes for more mental health services in schools; the Minnesota House approves medicaid expansion; the Minnesota Senate discusses the state’s health insurance marketplace; Gov. Dayton gives thumbs up to Mayo Clinic growth plans; and online health consults grow despite concerns from doctors about the benefits of telehealth services like Virtuwell.

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Legislators push for mental health funding (Minnesota Daily)

Some state senators are looking to increase funding for mental health resources in Minnesota.

Last week, legislators introduced bills that would provide more mental health resources for children in K-12 schools.

Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, is leading the charge. She introduced two bills calling for increased funding for school-linked mental health services and more resources for young adults with mental health issues.   Read More…


Minnesota House approves medicaid expansion (

More than 35,000 low-income Minnesota residents moved closer Monday to becoming eligible for a subsidized health insurance program, part of a state buy-in to the controversial new federal health care law.

The Democratic-led state House voted 71-56 to approve an expansion of the state’s Medical Assistance program and take advantage of a federal promise to send billions to cover the full cost of the new enrollees for a few years. The proposed change to the Minnesota version of Medicaid now heads to a Democratic-controlled Senate, which could act on it later this week. Gov. Mark Dayton, also a Democrat, said he supports the bill.   Read More…


Senate committee discusses MN Insurance Marketplace Act (Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch)

The Senate Commerce Committee recently discussed at length Senate File 1: the Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act.

Part of the federal healthcare reform legislation (the Affordable Care Act) asks each state to set up an internet portal (also known as an “exchange”) for the purchase of health insurance. Small businesses with up to 100 employees or those without coverage can purchase health coverage in the exchange.   Read More…


Dayton signals support for Mayo Clinic plan (Minnesota Public Radio)

Gov. Mark Dayton gave the strongest indication yet that he intends to help the Mayo Clinic with its expansion plan in Rochester. He made the comments during a speech to an audience of Democrats in Oakdale today.

“How we get there? We have to negotiate,” Dayton said. “But do we need to get there? I’m absolutely certain we do.”   Read More…


Online consults increasing, despite physicians’ concerns (

Online consultations are spreading fast now that payers have figured out how to use them to save money. Last week, Health Affairs published a paper by researchers at HealthPartners — a Minnesota-based health plan and physician group — showing that online consultations with nurse practitioners for minor ailments saved the insurer $88 per episode of care.

In most cases, these “virtual visits” to Virtuwell, a HealthPartners subsidiary, replaced office visits and visits to ERs, urgent care centers and retail clinics. The online service produced a high level of patient satisfaction while delivering care that was said to be as effective as in-person encounters with providers.   Read More…

In The News – Feb. 6, 2013

Lots of health news today, so let’s get right to the headlines:

  • How can online healthcare delivery like impact health?
  • Full implementation of the Affordable Care Act could reduce the amount of uncompensated care in Minnesota
  • The state’s medical device companies announced plans to lay off more than 800 people in 2012
  • The tour bus rolls on for Mayo Clinic’s Destination Medical Center plans
  • A new chief nursing exec is hired at the U of M Medical Center/Fairview Health

Health news headlines from Minnesota with just one click. That’s


Health Partners of Minnesota: Online clinics can reduce costs, improve outcomes and experience (

Online healthcare delivery is yielding financial and clinical benefits–signaling a need for regulatory reform that allows for expansion and innovation in the field, according to a study in Health Affairs.

HealthPartners of Minnesota’s online clinic, Virtuwell, has reduced costs by an average of $88 per episode compared with traditional care, has improved clinical effectiveness and has a 98 percent “would recommend” rating from customers, according to the authors.   Read More…


Minnesota says health law could cut unpaid care (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Full implementation of the federal health law could reduce the amount of uncompensated care at Minnesota’s hospitals by $134 million to $168 million, according to a new analysis by the state Department of Health.

The estimates look out to 2016, when elements of the Affordable Care Act are fully operational, including health insurance exchanges that could help more than 1 million individuals, families and small businesses shop for coverage.   Read More…


Medical device companies disclosed layoff plans (Minnesota Public Radio)

Big medical device companies disclosed plans to cut about 800 jobs in Minnesota last year.

Boston Scientific planned 500 job cuts, the biggest medical technology industry layoff last year. Most cuts were tied to a restructuring launched in 2011. The company has yet to disclose how many Minnesotans may be affected by additional layoffs announced last month.   Read More…


Rochester on Tour pushes Destination Medical Center (Rochester Post-Bulletin)

More than 400 people from Rochester flooded the Minnesota Capitol on Tuesday at a time when Mayo Clinic is trying to win legislative support for its $6 billion Destination Medical Center initiative.

Last week, clinic officials announced a plan to turn the city into a global destination medical center. At a Capitol news conference, they asked lawmakers to support more than $500 million in public assistance to pay for infrastructure.   Read More…


University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview hires new CNE (News Release)

After conducting a nationwide executive search led by healthcare leadership solutions firm B. E. Smith, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview in Minneapolis, Minn., has hired Laura Reed as chief nursing executive. A seasoned healthcare executive with extensive nursing leadership experience, Reed will assume her new duties at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview on March 11th.

“Laura brings a proven track record in the areas of clinical program development, patient satisfaction and nursing engagement,” said Mark Madden, senior vice president of executive search for B. E. Smith.   Read More…



In The News – Jan. 2, 2013

Happy New Year to all Health In Minnesota readers. In today’s news, flu season gains traction across the state; Park Nicollet and HealthPartners completes planned merger; and Mayo health clinics in Albert Lea and Austin combine forces.

Flu Surge Has Minnesota Health Officials Worried (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

A sudden spike in flu cases over the holidays is filling emergency rooms and urgent care centers across the state and has health officials fearing this could be one of the worst influenza seasons in years.

More than 120 Minnesotans were hospitalized with the flu in the week that ended Dec. 22 — nearly twice the number of the previous week and more than a third of the total so far this year. The number of cases confirmed by laboratory testing also surged during the same week, reaching peaks reported much later in the previous two flu seasons. Yet it’s still early, said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease at the Minnesota Department of Health. Read More…

HealthPartners, Park Nicollet complete merger (

HealthPartners, Bloomington, Minn., has completed its merger with Park Nicollet Health Services, St. Louis Park, Minn., in a deal that will unite the systems under the HealthPartners name and a single board of directors.

No money changed hands in the transaction, the systems said after the deal was announced in August.   Read More…

Mayo Clinics Merge (KIMT-TV)

Two Mayo Clinic Health Systems locations are combining their efforts.

Effective Tuesday, the Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Albert Lea and Austin will be one integrated organization. The name for the new organization is Mayo Clinic Health System – Albert Lea and Austin.

The integration follows an 18-month process that evaluated all aspects of integration before a recommendation was made to each board. Read More…


In The News – Oct. 24, 2012

Health news today includes an MPR story noting the state will ask for up to $80 million more in federal grants to create a state health insurance exchange; the Pioneer Press reports on “pop-up kiosks” health insurance companies are launching at local shopping malls; a drug fraud settlement will net Minnesota more than $4.5 million; and the state’s health commissioner tells Mankato residents the population’s health is going in the wrong direction.

It’s health news with just one click! Follow us on Twitter @HealthInMinn

Minnesota to ask for more health exchange funds (Minnesota Public Radio)

The Dayton administration will seek between $60 million and $80 million more in federal grants to fund a cornerstone of the federal health care overhaul — a state insurance exchange.

The exchanges will allow consumers and small groups to comparison shop for health insurance in 2014.

Administration officials disclosed the new request during a testy legislative hearing about a previous federal exchange grant of $42 million. Some lawmakers accused the Dayton administration of moving too fast in developing an exchange without legislative input.   Read More…

Editor’s Note: Click here to read Health In Minnesota’s exclusive update on Minnesota’s Health Insurance Exchange.

Health insurers adding ‘pop-up’ stores to malls, shopping centers (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

The mall is becoming a hangout for insurance agents.

Photo By: John Doman, Pioneer Press

On Thursday, Oct. 25, Bloomington-based HealthPartners plans to open a temporary store at Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka so shoppers on their way to Jamba Juice or Aeropostale can stop to buy health plans.

The opening of the “pop-up” shop helps mark the local arrival of a national trend in which more health insurers are trying to reach customers by selling policies in malls, shopping centers and retail storefronts.   Read More…

Drug fraud settlement will net Minn. $4.5M (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Minnesota will collect $4.5 million as part of a national fraud settlement against an Illinois pharmaceutical company that illegally marketed a powerful anti-psychotic drug to treat seniors.

The payment by Abbott Laboratories Inc. is part of a $1.6 billion settlement that includes criminal and civil liability payments to the federal government, 49 states and the District of Columbia. Federal officials in May said it was the second-largest payment of its kind by a drug company.   Read More…

Health Commissioner Says State’s Health Is Slipping (Mankato Free Press)

In a talk Tuesday at St. Peter’s River’s Edge Hospital, Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger’s message was simple: Minnesota is slipping when it comes to national health rankings, and he thinks it’s time the state gets back on top.

For years Minnesota was ranked No. 1 or No. 2. Now we’re No. 6 in rankings that compare overall health across dozens of measures.   Read More…