In The News – April 14, 2014

Health news headlines for today include:

  • Uninsureds get public health coverage at record levels
  • Eye doctors are top Medicare billers in Minnesota
  • “On The Move” program gets Allina Health and Mayo Clinic support in Owatonna


Minnesota’s uninsured get public aid at historic levels (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

On a recent weekday evening, Ibrahim Hassan was pacing the narrow corridor outside a Somali mosque in south Minneapolis, buoyantly shaking hands and waving like a politician at a campaign stop.

His mission: To sign up every eligible uninsured person he met for public health coverage through the state’s MNsure website.   Read More…


Eye docs are Minnesota’s top medicare billers (Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal)

Ophthalmologists were among Minnesota’s top recipients of Medicare payments in 2012, according to data released by the federal government.

Thirteen doctors statewide earned more than $1 million through Medicare billings for services and equipment.  Read More…


Owatonna clinic, partners encourage exercise during “On The Move” program (

Motorists traveling around Owatonna may notice more people exercising outdoors in a couple weeks. But it isn’t just because of the weather.

Mayo Clinic Health System — Owatonna announced that it will be holding its five-week “On the Move” wellness program in partnership with Steele County Public Health, Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Owatonna Parks and Recreation, Allina Health, area schools and area businesses starting on April 21.   Read More…

In The News – April 11, 2014

Today’s health-related news headlines include:

  • Healthcare Engagement Solutions raises $550k
  • Auditor plans MNsure review
  • Are VCs shifting funding from med-devices to technology?


Local healthcare app creator raises $550,000 in financing (TwinCities Business Magazine)

Minneapolis-based Healthcare Engagement Solutions, the developer of Uniphy, announced Thursday that it closed on a $550,000 angel investment.

Founded in 2013, the company is in the process of rolling out its suite of mobile technologies, Uniphy.   Read More…


Legislative auditor plans comprehensive review of troubled health exchange launch (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Minnesota’s legislative auditor said Wednesday he plans to conduct a thorough, independent review of the troubled launch of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange.

“The evaluation will be a comprehensive, in-depth evaluation of many issues related to the development of the website but also many other issues as well,” Legislative Auditor Nobles told a House-Senate MNsure oversight committee. The exact scope of the inquiry is still being determined, he said.   Read More…


Will other Minn. VCs shift from med-device to tech? (Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal)

Venture capital firm Split Rock Partners’ recent shift away from med-tech deals isn’t just a reflection of the challenges facing health care investors. It’s also a statement about the upside of tech investing.

A growing number of opportunities in the software and Internet sectors played a big role in Eden Prairie firm’s decision to allocate more of its uncommitted capital to tech deals, said Managing Director Michael Gorman in an interview Wednesday.   Read More…

In The News – April 9, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Governor calls GOP’s MNsure investigation a farce
  • Council of Health Plans releases 2013 spending report
  • Fitbit taking a bite out of some peoples’ wrists
  • Crow Wing County ends immunization program

Follow us on Twitter @HealthInMinn for all the latest health news from around the state.


Gov. Dayton accuses MNsure’s GOP critic’s of farce (La Crosse Tribune)

Gov. Mark Dayton has lashed out at critics of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, accusing them of waging a propaganda campaign to destroy it.

The Democratic governor spoke to reporters after GOP members of a legislative oversight committee said they wanted to use a hearing Wednesday to raise questions about the troubled launch of MNsure last October.   Read More…


Minnesota Council of Health Plans releases 2013 spending report (News Release)

Health plans in Minnesota paid $19.7 billion-$54.1 million every day-for medical care on behalf of their members for doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital stays and other covered medical services in 2013.

In all, spending for care was up nearly $1 billion or 4 percent over 2012.   Read More…


Digital bracelet company may end up in court (

They thought they were buying a popular gadget to give them a better handle on their health. Instead, thousands of people ended up with a bad rash.

The Fitbit Force is a digital bracelet that measures your physical activity and sleep patterns, but it left some consumers with scars.   Read More…


Crow Wing County ends public health immunization program (Brainerd Dispatch)

Last year, Crow Wing County provided immunization shots for 160 children in families where insurance didn’t cover the shots.

That will end April 30. Crow Wing County commissioners voted unanimously to end its immunization program.   Read More…

In The News – April 7, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • Legislative commission will decide if MNsure gets audit
  • Patients in safety net insurance pool find other health plans
  • Statewide sepsis awareness project hopes to improve patient outcomes
  • Sometimes people must be prodded to make health changes


Lawmakers to decide if MNsure gets major audit (Minnesota Public Radio)

A state legislative commission decides this week whether the state’s new online health insurance marketplace, MNsure, should get a major, top to bottom audit.

MNsure has received more than $150 million in federal grants and external reviews found poor management and serious software failures. While a change in leadership in December improved MNsure’s operations many questions remain about the reasons for the site’s troubled operations.   Read More…


Many in Minnesota’s high-risk health insurance pool find new plans (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Almost 62 percent of Minnesotans who had relied on the state’s safety net insurance pool have found better health care coverage on MNsure or the individual market, far exceeding goals, officials at the organization said Friday.

The high-risk pool is winding down operations and will close for good at the end of the year. Under the Affordable Care Act, such pools are less necessary because insurers now are required to provide coverage even to those who are already sick.   Read More…


As sepsis takes its toll, St. Cloud hospital makes its move (St. Cloud Times)

St. Cloud Hospital kicked off a statewide campaign last week against a serious medical condition caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection.

“This is the first time there has been a statewide project to improve outcomes of patients with severe sepsis/septic shock,” said Roberta Basol, care center director of the intensive care/surgical care and clinical practice.  Read More…


Check-in calls improve health of patients at risk for heart disease (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

For people trying to eat right and get more exercise, some gentle nagging can go a long way. Just ask Pat Rolloff of New Ulm, Minn. After her mom died last May, Rolloff’s doctor recommended that she try a program called HeartBeat Connections, which would hook her up with a health coach to help her reduce her cholesterol and lose the 30 pounds she had gained from grief and stress.   Read More…

In The News – April 4, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Sanford Health gets awards for worksite friendliness
  • MNsure CEO takes questions from Congressional Committee
  • Med-tech firm Holaira raises millions for COPD clinical trial


Sanford Health of northern Minnesota recognized by American Heart Association as a fit-friendly work site (Walker Pilot-Independent)

For the third consecutive year, Sanford Health of northern Minnesota (SHNM) has received recognition as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association and was also recognized as a Community Innovation award winner for helping employees eat better and move more.

“Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at Sanford. We are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite for the third year in a row,” said Dan Olson, President of SHNM.    Read More…


MNsure chief questioned by Congress (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Members of Congress’ chief investigative committee aggressively questioned MNsure’s interim CEO on Thursday, demanding to know if Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace has rebounded from problems that left it on the brink of collapse last fall.

Citing the findings of a consultant’s report from January that found MNsure’s management in constant “crisis mode,” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., pressed interim MNsure CEO Scott Leitz for details on the shake-up inside the agency in the wake of a troubled launch.  Read More…


Med-tech firm Holaira raises $4 million, plans clinical trial (Twin Cities Business Magazine)

Plymouth-based med-tech company Holaira announced Thursday that it closed on a round of $42 million in funding.

Holaira is working to develop a lung therapy that will make it easier for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to breathe—the company says the condition affects 15 million people in the United States and almost 190 million people worldwide.   Read More…

In The News – April 1, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • Minnesotans rushed to MNsure website to beat enrollment deadline
  • House and Senate committees sign off on tanning ban bill
  • Lake Region Medical sells itself to Accellent for $390 million


Time’s up: It was a mad dash to beat MNsure’s enrollment deadline (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Minnesotans rushed to sign up for health insurance Monday, as open enrollment ended and consumers closed the first, eventful chapter in an ambitious national experiment to transform health coverage.

The result: long wait times at the state’s MNsure call center and a bogged-down website that prevented some people from completing enrollment.   Read More…


Legislature may ban young people from using tanning beds (Winona Daily News)

At a time when melanoma cases are rising sharply in Minnesota, lawmakers appear poised to pass legislation that would ban anyone younger than 18 from using tanning equipment.

Bills sailed through House and Senate committees this month and now await floor votes in both bodies. The ban, which has been a controversial topic in previous sessions, now has the support of the tanning industry.   Read More…


Lake Region Medical: A family business and med-tech pioneer (

There may be no better living authorities on the origins of ­Minnesota’s modern-day medical technology industry than the four Fleischhacker kids.

“I’m 59, and I’ve been in the medical device business for 51 of them,” quipped Joe Fleischhacker Jr., who until a few weeks ago was CEO of Chaska-based Lake Region Medical.   Read More…

In The News – March 31, 2014

Today’s health news:

  • Minnesotans can enroll for health coverage through 11:59 p.m. tonight
  • Health care providers collaborate to keep costs down


Midnight deadline looms for enrolling in health care coverage through MNsure (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

A deadline of 11:59 p.m. is looming for Minnesotans to enroll for health insurance for 2014 though the state’s online marketplace.

MNsure has more than 50 sign-up events scheduled across the state Monday. As of Friday, more than 152,000 Minnesotans had enrolled in private insurance plans or qualified for government-subsidized public plans.   Read More…


Health providers holding down costs while better coordinating care (Mankato Free Press)

Among all of the clamor over the rocky start to health insurance reform and the long-held perception of out-of-control health care spending, something unique happened without a lot of fanfare.

“Health care costs went up less than inflation the past two years nationally,” said Dr. Greg Kutcher, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.   Read More…

In The News – March 28, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • More nurses needed as emergency room visits increase
  • The health of counties in Minnesota
  • MNsure enrollments expected to surge in final days


Measuring the health of counties (Brainerd Dispatch)

2014 Health Outcomes - Minnesota_0How healthy are area counties and how much does that affect individual health?

A nationwide report ranking the health of counties in 50 states is providing a look at existing health factors with a hope of starting conversations on how to make improvements.

The report shows a wide range of health status among Minnesota counties. Crow Wing County ranked the highest in the seven-county area. Four area counties were in the bottom 10 — Morrison, Wadena, Mille Lacs and Cass County.   Read More…


Rising emergency room visits driving demand for nurses (Isanti County News)

Catastrophes like the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco and the Boston Marathon bombings have highlighted the extraordinary work of emergency departments (ED) and their indispensable role in health care.

While disasters such as these are rare, emergency medicine plays a pivotal role in our nation’s health care system every day. Emergency nurses, in particular, play an integral role in minimizing devastation when tragedy strikes.  Read More…


Surge expected in final days to MNsure deadline (

Callers to Minnesota’s health insurance exchange are experiencing longer waits this weekend as the deadline for open enrollment approaches.

As expected, MNSure is experiencing an upsurge in calls as residents try to sign up for coverage before the 11:59 p.m. Monday deadline. Read More…

In The News – March 26, 2014

Health news headlines today include:

  • MNsure enrollment tops goal
  • MNsure allows flexibility around March 31 deadline
  • EEOC sues Rochester home health care provider
  • Mercy Hospital first to use Medtronic’s Reveal monitor


MNsure enrollment tops 136,000, exceeding goal (

Minnesota’s new health care exchange celebrated a milestone Tuesday as officials announced they have exceeded their goal by enrolling over 136,700 Minnesotans in insurance plans with less than a week to go in the inaugural open enrollment period.

The MNsure board of directors set a goal of 135,000 enrollments last October, a more modest expectation than the projections of 164,000 to 270,000 individuals given to lawmakers before they approved the exchange in March last year.   Read More…


MNsure lays out flexible deadline options for health insurance sign ups (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Aiming to give Minnesotans every possible chance to buy health insurance before the March 31 deadline, MNsure officials on Monday said they will grant some flexibility to those making a good-faith effort to buy coverage when the clock strikes midnight that night.  Read More…


EEOC sues Minnesota home health care provider (Rochester Post-Bulletin)

A federal agency is suing a Minneapolis area home health care provider for allegedly discriminating against a former employee with a disability.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit Monday against Baywood Home Care.   Read More…


Mercy first hospital in Minnesota to use mini cardiac monitor (

When Steven Byboth has a racing heart episode, it feels like “it is jumping right out” of his chest. Now, a monitor one-third the size of a AAA battery will try to catch the cause.

Byboth is the first Minnesotan to have a Medtronic Reveal LINQ implantable cardiac monitor in his chest. It’s the smallest implantable cardiac monitoring device available.   Read More…

In The News – March 24, 2014

Health news headline today include:

  • No health insurance? Prepare to pay penalty
  • CentraCare health care home initiative gets support


Penalties in place for those without health insurance (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

People who don’t sign up for health insurance by March 31 could be subject to a penalty, which will be calculated in one of two ways.

A single adult with annual household income between $10,150 and $19,650 would pay a flat rate of $95. The flat-rate penalty for each child under 18 is $47.50.  Read More…


Health initiative receives support (St. Cloud Times)

While the Affordable Care Act makes headlines when it comes to medical costs, the state’s Health Care Homes initiative is being touted as one way to reduce them.

CentraCare Health has 1,736 patients enrolled in the health care home program, and 20 care coordinators working at 11 clinic sites (family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics) as of last month.   Read More…