Health News Today – July 29, 2014

In today’s health news:

  • MDH working with Liberian officials to solve Ebola outbreak
  • Nearly 9,000 residents get apology letter following MNCare gaffe
  • ZocDoc helps Minnesotans find doctors and book appointments online


Minnesota health officials address Ebola concerns (

The Minnesota Department of Health is working with leaders in the local Liberian community to address concerns about an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Health officials are meeting with members of the West African community Monday.   Read More…


State issues apology for MNCare error (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The state of Minnesota is contacting nearly 9,000 recipients of MinnesotaCare health insurance to clarify a letter that incorrectly stated they would lose their subsidized coverage for at least four months if they didn’t re-enroll by July 31.

Minnesota used to make new or tardy MinnesotaCare enrollees wait four months for benefits, but that waiting period went away this year as part of federal health changes and the introduction of the MNsure online health insurance marketplace.   Read More…

ZocDoc comes to Minnesota, helping patients find doctors, book appointments (

ZocDoc, a free online service and app used by more than five million patients each month, arrives in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul areas today, delivering faster access to quality medical care. With ZocDoc, patients can search for nearby, in-network doctors, read verified reviews and health content, see doctors’ availability in real time, and instantly book appointments online. While the average wait to see a physician is over 18 days, the typical ZocDoc patient sees a doctor in under 24 hours.   Read More…

Health News Today – July 28, 2014

Today in health news:

  • MNsure should release cost-of-coverage info sooner, not later
  • State seeks medical marijuana manufacturers
  • Free dental clinic in Mankato once again a huge success


Editorial: A needed push for early release of MNsure rates (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Consumers buying health insurance on MNsure and the Affordable Care Act’s other new online marketplaces had six months to comparison shop and enroll for 2014 coverage.

But for 2015 coverage, that window is half as long, which is why it’s vital that Minnesota repeat the consumer-friendly, nation-leading move of releasing cost-of-coverage information as early as possible.   Read More…

Minnesota looks for manufacturers for medical pot program (

Dr. Marshall Brinton saw the headlines after Minnesota passed a medical marijuana law, looked around at the equipment in his old veterinary laboratory and thought: Yeah, I could do that.

A retired veterinarian in Willmar, Brinton hopes to convert the lab where he once made vaccines for animals into one of Minnesota’s two medical marijuana production facilities.   Read More…


Smiles all around at free dental clinic (

Tim Foskett is a well-educated teacher in Roseville. He’s also without dental insurance.

The lack of insurance brought him to Mankato on Friday for the Mission of Mercy free dental clinic at the Verizon Wireless Center. But the demand was so high he was turned away and had to return in the early morning hours Saturday to see a dentist.  Read More…


Health News Today – July 17, 2014

Health news headlines from around Minnesota today include:

  • New mental health transport system tested in MN
  • MNsure consultant, Deloitte, says website has horsepower
  • Med-tech startup investments grow 68% in Q2
  • launches online career resource center


Minnesota hospitals test mental health transport (Winona Daily News)

Minnesota hospitals are considering ways to transport mental health patients in unmarked vehicles instead of ambulances.

The Star Tribune reports hospitals and local officials across the state are experimenting with ways of responding to a psychiatric crisis if there’s no public safety risk. Changes could cut down on ambulance costs and the time police and fire departments spend transporting psychiatric patients. Medical experts also aim to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems.   Read More…

MNsure board told system has enough horsepower (Washington Times)

An outside consultant told directors of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange on Wednesday that the troubled system has enough horsepower as the fall open enrollment period approaches, amid Republican calls to kill the online marketplace altogether.

Brian Keane of Deloitte Consulting LLP told the MNsure board that his team has identified 30 key functions that have to work properly by Nov. 15, including processing of renewals. He said they’re determining which functions must be automated and which can be manual systems if necessary.   Read More…


Two big deals help MN medical investments climb 68% (Twin Cities Business)

Investment in Minnesota-based medical startups is continuing to grow, according to newly released second-quarter statistics from the St. Louis Park-based LifeScience Alley.

The industry association tallied $110.5 million in investments for the second quarter of 2014, a strong 68 percent uptick compared to the second quarter of 2013.   Read More… debuts nursing jobs and career resource center (News Release), the largest peer-to-peer online networking and support site for nursing, has launched its new Career Resource Center, allnurses Jobs. The Career Center is designed to better connect today’s millions of nurses and nursing students with potential employers, and vice versa. The resource features advanced search and matching technology, and offers a wealth of additional benefits for both candidates and employers.   Read More…

Health News Today – July 10, 2014

In health headlines today:

  • HMO plan premiums through MNsure might increase
  • Regions Hospital to test Tranexamic Acid to stop brain bleeds
  • Predictive blood test could help Alzheimer’s prone patients


MNsure monthly premiums likely to increase (KSTP-TV)

The head of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans gave a hint of what might come soon to those who pay for health insurance coverage through MNsure, Minnesota’s health care exchange.

Julie Brunner is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, which is the professional association for the HMOs that offer health coverage through MNsure. Brunner recently told a University of Minnesota symposium that she would “not be surprised if the health plans increased their rates by 8, 10, or even 12 percent.”    Read More…


New brain injury medication to be tested in Minn. (

You may be surprised to know what’s the number one cause of death in people younger than 40.

It’s traumatic brain injury, and it can be caused by a car accident, a fall or a hit to the head.  But now a Minnesota hospital is trying out a new tool that could save lives.   Read  More…


Minn. family cheers step toward Alzheimer’s blood test (

Researchers at a British university have identified a set of 10 proteins that may predict the onset of Alzheimer’s, and they’re heralding the discovery as a big step toward creating a simple blood test that could forecast the likelihood of developing the disease. Now, a Minnesota family with several loved ones struggling with Alzheimer’s says they have hope that the research could help people prepare and lead to better treatment.   Read More…



Health News Today – July 2, 2014

In today’s health news headlines:

  • New laws gives some health care providers larger paychecks
  • 250k now enrolled through MNsure
  • Grants help Central Minnesota healthcare agencies


Minnesota healthcare providers receive wage increase (KTTC-TV)

A number of new laws went into effect on Tuesday in Minnesota. One will have some health care providers in Minnesota seeing a five percent increase for certain workers who serve people in home and community based disability services. The Campaign Implementation Plan passed by the state legislature and backed by Governor Mark Dayton allocates an additional $80 million dollars to home care services this year.

Most Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities want to live in their homes, and still have access to the high-quality care they need,” said Governor Dayton.   Read More…


MNsure: Quarter million enrolled through healthcare marketplace (Fergus Falls Journal)

In numbers released Monday, MNsure said more than a quarter of a million Minnesotans have enrolled for health care through its online health insurance marketplace that arose following passage of the federal Affordable Care Act in 2010.

For Jenny Peterson, executive director of Generations Health Care Initiatives, it’s an impressive number — 251,592 — but one she’s eager to see hyper-localized.   Read More…


Central Minnesota healthcare agencies receive support (St. Cloud Times)

A Sauk Rapids agency that aids people with disabilities is among those receiving state allotments from the Department of Human Services.

Independent Lifestyles is getting a $254,686 allotment, the department announced Tuesday. The funds are to implement a parenting program for people with disabilities in Benton County to reduce out-of-home placement of their children.   Read More…


Health News Headlines – Jun 19, 2014

In today’s health news:

  • Deloitte Consulting reveals technology problems to MNsure board
  • Medtronic/Covidien deal may lay groundwork for U.S. tax reform
  • Nearly 8,000 avoidable hospital readmissions prevented since 2011
  • Lyme disease on the rise in Minnesota


MNsure board gets sobering technology update (

Consultants told the board that governs Minnesota’s health insurance exchange Wednesday that a lot of work is needed to get the troubled system ready for open enrollment in November.

MNsure hired Deloitte Consulting LLP for $5 million in April to be its new general contractor and provide a roadmap for overhauling the state’s online health care marketplace. Brian Keane, a principal with Deloitte, and project manager Sally Fingar gave MNsure’s directors a sobering initial diagnosis.   Read More…


Medtronic’s new poster deal for U.S. tax reform (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Under a much-discussed merger agreement, a notable medical-device manufacturer now based in Fridley will move its “executive” headquarters to Ireland, while top executives remain at “operational” headquarters in the Twin Cities. The Minnesota firm’s merger partner started doing business in Bermuda but is now incorporated on the Emerald Isle. Its operational base, though, is in Massachusetts.

A bit confused? Welcome to the wide world of “inversions,” where U.S. companies trying to escape one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world go abroad in search of reduced tax exposure through overseas mergers.   Read  More…

RARE Campaign exceeds goals, prevents 7,975 avoidable hospital readmissions in Minnesota (News Release)

The RARE (Reducing Avoidable Readmissions Effectively) Campaign, one of the largest coordinated improvement initiatives ever undertaken by the Minnesota health care community, reports that it has prevented 7,975 avoidable hospital readmissions since 2011. By avoiding these readmissions, it is estimated that patients spent 31,900 more nights sleeping comfortably in their own beds instead of at the hospital, and that inpatient medical costs were reduced by about $70 million.

The RARE Campaign involves 86 hospitals and more than 100 community partners across Minnesota and is led by three operating partners: the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI), the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA), and Stratis Health.   Read More…


Lyme disease reports increase in Minnesota (Rochester Post-Bulletin)

As summer continues to heat up, southeastern Minnesota can expect to find an increase in ticks looking for a meal and occasionally leaving behind Lyme disease when they find one.

This past winter’s heavy snowfall did nothing to kill the hibernating parasites. If anything, the snow helped insulate them from the cold. Now that the days are growing warmer, blacklegged ticks, commonly known as deer ticks, are coming out to feed.   Read More…




Health News Today – June 16, 2014

Health news headlines today include:

  • Medtronic strikes deal to acquire Covidien
  • Shakopee VA Clinic celebrates grand opening
  • State slows transfer of public health coverage to MNsure
  • Affordable Care Act is working says U of M study


Medtronic pays $42.9 billion for Covidien (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Medtronic Inc. announced Sunday night that it will pay $42.9 billion to acquire the Irish surgical device maker Covidien. As a result of the deal, Medtronic will move its executive headquarters to ­Ireland to take advantage of substantial tax benefits.

The combined firm will be led by Medtronic Chairman and CEO Omar Ishrak and will maintain its operational headquarters in the Twin Cities, where 8,000 employees now work.   Read More…

New Shakopee VA clinic holds grand opening (

Monday marks the grand opening of the new Veterans Affairs clinic in Shakopee.

U.S. Rep. John Kline is slated to keynote the 9 a.m. program, which includes an open house and tours.   Read More…



Minnesota slows transfer of public health coverage to MNsure site (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Minnesota officials have slowed a massive transition of public insurance beneficiaries to the new MNsure system, but say the health insurance exchange still will meet projections for 1.3 million enrollees by 2016.

As of May, the exchange had enrolled more than 200,000 in public and private health insurance — less than one-fifth of the long-term projection for coverage through MNsure.   Read More…


ACA is paying off with access for all (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The venomous politics dogging the Affordable Care Act and the flawed rollouts of its new health insurance marketplaces have too often overshadowed health reform’s noble goal: ensuring that more Americans have access to vital, potentially lifesaving medical coverage.

But on Wednesday, a groundbreaking analysis released by University of Minnesota researchers offered a powerful reminder of why it’s important to keep the big picture in mind as the challenges of implementing the landmark 2010 law continue.    Read More…



Health News Today – June 13, 2014

Health news headlines from around Minnesota today include:

  • Minnesota Jobs Coalition produces ad blasting Gov. Dayton and MNsure
  • Treatment and recovery of certain brain injuries improving
  • Are state prisons the new asylums for mentally ill people?


Group targets Minnesota Gov. Dayton in TV ad over health care law (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

An independent political group’s TV ad uses Gov. Mark Dayton’s own words against him on the new health insurance law, prompting pushback from the Democrat’s campaign.

The Minnesota Jobs Coalition ad rolled out Thursday uses footage of Dayton from October saying MNsure was going “phenomenally well.” MNsure is the Web-based exchange Minnesota is using to comply with the Affordable Care Act, known by many as “Obamacare.”  Read More…



Brain trauma: Treatment, recovery results improve drastically (

Over the past few years, greater understanding of traumatic brain injuries has led to dramatic progress in recovery and treatment even though the circumstances that led to those discoveries is less than ideal.

Last month, the care team helping Isaac Kolstad recover from the traumatic brain injury he suffered in an assault on the streets of Mankato, Minn., removed a piece of his skull to relieve the pressure. Soon, that skull flap will be replaced, and that will mark a major step forward as he moves toward rehab.   Read More…


Prisons, America’s new asylums (Crookston Times)

A new report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, “The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails,” has found that the number of individuals with serious mental illness in prisons and jails now exceeds the number in state psychiatric hospitals by a factor of 10.

In 2012, there were an estimated 356,268 inmates with severe mental illnesses in U.S. prisons and jails. There were only 35,000 mentally ill individuals in state psychiatric hospitals.   Read More…

Health News Today – June 12, 2014

Health news headlines today:

  • 95% of Minnesotans insured following MNsure enrollment
  • Vets say state’s VA clinics are ‘ok’
  • Cardiovascular Systems plans new HQ in New Brighton
  • Steele Fitness/Snap Fitness announces plan to scale and compete with LifeTime


Minnesota’s uninsured rate dropped 41% after MNsure enrollment (Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal)

More than 180,000 Minnesotans without health insurance got it after the Affordable Care Act led to the state’s MNsureexchange.

Between the end of September 2013 (before MNsure open enrollment started) and the start of May (one month after it closed), the number of uninsured Minnesotans dropped by 40.6 percent to 264,5000.   Read More…

Despite audit’s red flags, vets give Minnesota’s VA clinics high marks (

While Minnesota Veterans Affairs officials anxiously seek an explanation why a federal audit identified the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and the Rochester VA clinic as trouble spots needing more review, many Minnesota veterans are praising the state’s VA medical facilities.

Rank-and-file vets and those employed by county Veterans Services offices throughout the state said they’ve received superb care from the Minneapolis VA hospital.   Read More…

Cardiovascular Systems announces plans for new corporate headquarters (News Release)

Cardiovascular Systems, Inc. (CSI) (NASDAQ: CSII), today announced plans to build a new corporate headquarters in New Brighton, Minn. The 125,000-square-foot, two-story building will have space for more than 500 employees and contain dedicated research and development, training and education, and manufacturing facilities.   Read More…

Steele aims to complete with LifeTime, double footprint (

Steele Fitness recently announced plans to double its footprint in the Twin Cities and is expanding its services to offer gym memberships, in addition to the personal training model that it is largely known for.

Steele Fitness, which was acquired by Chanhassen-based fitness chain Snap Fitness last year, currently operates five locations in Minnesota and expects to open between five to seven new gyms by the end of the year, bringing its total to between 10 to 12.   Read More…


Health News Today – May 15, 2014

In today’s health news summary:

  • Mayo trial uses virotherapy with measles vaccine to wipe out myeloma cancer cells
  • MNsure starts targeting college grads
  • Minnesota Medical Association gives thumbs up to House pot bill


Mayo Clinic Trial: Massive measles vaccine attacks blood cancer (

Mayo Clinic researchers announced a landmark study where a massive dose of the measles vaccine, enough to inoculate ten million people, wiped out a Minnesota woman’s incurable blood cancer.

The Mayo Clinic conducted the clinical trial last year using virotherapy. The method discovered the measles virus wiped out multiple myeloma cancer calls.  Read More…


MNsure reaches out to graduating college students (Crookston Times)

Minnesota’s online health insurance marketplace has launched a campaign aimed at making sure young adults don’t lose coverage when they graduate from college.

MNsure CEO Scott Leitz says many graduating students will lose the health insurance they have through their schools. But the loss of coverage may make them eligible to enroll for coverage in private plans via MNsure.  Read More…


Minn. doctor group nods to House medical marijuana bill (

The Minnesota Medical Association is putting its weight behind the House version of a bill to legalize medical marijuana.

The MMA stopped short of saying it supported the legislation in writing to the House sponsor. But the group called the House proposal “a more useful, measured approach” than the Senate’s.   Read More…