Health News Today – Oct. 16, 2014

Health news headlines:

  • Get to know Minnesota’s new medical marijuana director
  • State health experts speak out about Ebola
  • MNsure gets technology ready to handle open enrollment
  • St. Jude Medical shares fall


Minnesota’s new medical pot chief eyes patient health, public safety (

Michelle Larson has already been called a lot of things: Captain Cannabis. Mary Jane. The pot czar.

Minnesota’s director of the office of medical cannabis has spent the last six weeks creating the job she was hired to do. She’s endured a lot of interesting jokes since then. But to her, marijuana is serious business. People’s lives are at stake.   Read More…


As Ebola surprises, Minnesota health experts step up (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

For schools, it’s tips on screening students who may have traveled to infected countries. For hospitals, it’s instructions on “donning and doffing” protective gear. For funeral directors, it’s guidelines for handling bodies of Ebola victims.

There are no signs the deadly Ebola virus has made its way to Minnesota and no reason for the public to panic, said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious diseases at the state Department of Health.   Read More…


MNsure races to ready exchange for open enrollment (

Officials racing to ready Minnesota’s health insurance exchange for open enrollment one month from now said Wednesday it’s a high-risk project because of tight timelines but they expect consumers will have a better experience than last year.

Managers from the state’s information technologyagency MN.IT told MNsure’s board Wednesday that extensive testing is underway to make sure the website and related systems are as ready as possible by Nov. 15…   Read More…


Shares in St. Jude Medical fall after outlook darkens (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

St. Jude Medical Inc. reported an 8 percent jump in its adjusted profit for the third quarter, but the company lowered its revenue guidance for the fourth quarter.

The medical device maker said Wednesday it saw sales gains across the board during the July-to-September period. Its biggest business, in implantable defibrillators and pacemakers, experienced a 1 percent jump.   Read More…





Health News Today – Oct. 8, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • Medica-Mayo health plans an option for residents in SE Minnesota
  • Medicare fines 36 Minnesota hospitals
  • Live Well At Home app wins award


SE Minn to see Medica-Mayo health plan options through MNsure (

Southeast Minnesota residents will now have Medica plans that include Mayo Clinic as an in-network option on MNSure, the state’s online health insurance marketplace.

Medica on Monday said it will begin offering a new health plan for individuals and families in 18 southern Minnesota counties. It will include access to Rochester’s Mayo Clinic as well as Mayo Clinic Health System, Northfield Hospitals and Clinics, and Winona Health, said Medica Vice President of Individual Business Dannette Coleman.   Read More…


Medicare fines 36 Minnesota hospitals for readmission rates (

Medicare is fining a record number of hospitals – 2,610 – for having too many patients return within a month for additional treatments, federal records show. Even though the nation’s readmission rate is dropping, Medicare’s average fines will be higher, with 39 hospitals receiving the largest penalty allowed, including the nation’s oldest hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.   Read More…


Live Well At Home app takes home award (Hibbing Daily Tribune)

A mobile app launched to help seniors prepare for aging took home some national recognition recently by winning a senior educational award.

The Minnesota Board on Aging debuted the Live Well at Home app in June 2013 as a first-step tool for seniors just starting to think about their living arrangements as they get older.

The app’s ease of use certainly factored into winning the award, which is part of the National Mature Media Awards Program, said Jean Wood, executive director of the board on aging.   Read More…




Health News Today – Oct. 3, 2014

Friday’s health news headlines include:

  • Drug OD deaths exceed traffic fatalities in Minn.
  • MNsure 2015 health exchange premiums increase, on average, 4.5%
  • Post ACA study from U of M shows ER psychiatric visits for young adults declined
  • Are marathons bad for you?
  • Ecumen and MnSCU team to train nurses for growing senior population


Drug overdose deaths in Minnesota exceed traffic fatalities for first time (

Traffic accidents are so 2013. The Strib’s Kevin Giles says, “Overdose deaths in Minnesota from prescription painkillers and heroin have soared to a level that now exceeds deaths from motor vehicle accidents, new numbers from the state Department of Health show. … In 2013, the Health Department reported, 507 Minnesotans died of all types of drug overdoses including 329 in the 11-county metro area. Deaths from prescribed pain relievers — and illegal heroin, a close cousin in the opiate family — accounted for many of them. By comparison, 374 Minnesotans died in motor vehicle accidents.”    Read More…


4.5% average hike in 2014 MNsure health plan rates (

Costs for health plans offered through MNsure are expected to rise an average 4.5 percent for 2015, officials with the health exchange said Wednesday.

Premiums will be the lowest of any in the nation and there will be more choices when the new enrollment period launches Nov. 15, the Commerce Department said.   Read More…



University of Minnesota Study: After Affordable Care Act, inpatient psychiatric care rose and emergency psychiatric care dropped for young adults (

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded health care coverage to several million previously uninsured young adults. Research out today from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota finds that the ACA’s young adult insurance expansion coincided with modest increases to inpatient mental health and inpatient substance abuse care utilization, while emergency department use for these disorders declined. Young adults were also less likely to be uninsured when they did use these hospital-based services.

The findings were published online today in the American Journal of Psychiatry.   Read More…



Good Question: Are marathons bad for your health? (

This coming Monday, you might see a few of your co-workers limping around the office after almost 12,000 people lace up for this Sunday’s Twin Cities Marathon — 26.2 miles that circle around Minneapolis and St. Paul.

As one marathoner who’s competed in the past put it, “My muscles, my legs, my calves … felt like crap.”   Read More…


Ecumen, MnSCU launch workforce development initiative (Mankato Free Press)

A local senior services organization hopes to become “ground zero” for senior health care by launching a new workforce development initiative that would address a looming shortage in the number of nurses trained to serve the state’s rapidly aging population.

Ecumen, which operates in several rural Minnesota communities, is teaming up with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to implement the new program, to be called Ecumen Scholars.   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. 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. 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. 8, 2014

Today’s health news:

  • Rural Healthcare Program awards grants for CPR devices
  • Rural outreach to insure more Minnesotans gearing up
  • Mental health care deserves more state funding


CPR devices bound for rural Minnesota (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

More than 300 new automatic cardiopulmonary resuscitation devices will be distributed to emergency rooms and ambulances around the state through a $4 million grant, an initiative that could help save the lives of patients requiring extensive cardiac care, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday.   Read More…


Minnesota gearing up for rural outreach on health insurance enrollment (

Americans living in rural areas will be a key target as states and nonprofit groups strategize how to enroll more people in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act this fall.

An examination of experiences in Minnesota and Virginia shows how state decisions continue to shape these efforts.

Though millions of people signed up for private insurance or Medicaid in the first year of the Affordable Care Act, millions of others did not. Many live in rural areas where people “face more barriers,” said Laurie Martin, a RAND Corp. senior policy researcher.   Read More…


Mental health care deserves more state funding (Mankato Free Press)

It was a gathering that stirred both feelings of pride and sadness.

One hundred or so professionals gathered at South Central College recently to discuss the state of mental health care being delivered in Minnesota and locally.

Over 220,000 people receive mental health care from the state, and the passion among those providers to do the best for the most fragile of our society was evident. They talked of the area’s strength when it comes to providing some aspects of mental health care. Specifically, there were accolades for the Mankato crisis center, especially for its ability to take patients without a referral.  Read More…



Health News Today – Sept. 4, 2014

Health news headlines today include:

  • MDH plans to release number of sports concussions
  • Dayton calls MNsure rollout a disappointment
  • Cambridge Act On Alzheimer’s is creating a dementia-friendly community
  • Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of MN says data integration standards are crucial


Health Department to reveal number of sports-related concussions (

Using better equipment is only part of how concussions can be prevented.

“It’s very hard for us to stop everything,” she said. “Football players, for example, learning the proper tackling techniques.”

Hager says new research gives trainers better understanding of the effects of concussions, and can lead to improved diagnostic tools to determine the severity of a head injury right after it happens.   Read More…


Dayton, appearing as candidate, apologizes for MNsure rollout but touts success (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Gov. Mark Dayton, making a relatively rare appearance as a candidate Wednesday, called the troubled roll-out of the MNsure health insurance exchange the single biggest disappointment of his first term but also offered a full-throated defense of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Dayton and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, his Republican opponent, appeared at a general session of the Association of Minnesota Counties, held at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria. The candidates did not share a stage, but spoke in close succession before a crowd of about 200 county commissioners from around the state.    Read More…


Cambridge Act on Alzheimer’s: Our journey so far (Isanti County News)

In May 2013, key members of Cambridge came together and committed their support to become a dementia friendly community.

The ACT on Alzheimer’s is equipping and engaging communities to plan and develop “dementia friendly communities.” A dementia friendly community is informed, safe and respectful of individuals with dementia, their families and caregivers and provides supportive options that foster quality of life.   Read More…


Why is data integration essential to growing health systems (

For a healthcare organization growing through acquisitions, affiliations, and brand-new construction, integration is a continuous process requiring mechanisms for pushing and pulling patient data to numerous health IT systems and end-users with specific needs.

“Even though the clinic is sitting right next door, integration has gone worldwide,” says Joe Pinotti, Interface Engineer at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. “You have standards for data transformation, but companies in different parts of the world have different standards of integration.   Read More…