Health News Today – 1/20/15

In today’s health news headlines from around Minnesota:

  • Health care contributes mightily to busting state’s budget
  • Analysis shows health care law is working
  • Med device tax repeal might benefit companies in more ways than one
  • Study sheds little light on nurse staffing numbers


Minnesota’s budget busters include K-12, health care (Duluth News Tribune)

When Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposes a budget later this month, he’s likely to talk a lot about transportation, workforce development and child care tax credits.

But the shape of his budget already will have been determined by a long, slow process: the gradual, inexorable domination of Minnesota’s spending by K-12 education and health care programs.  Read More…


Four charts that show the health care law is working (

The Affordable Care Act appears to be doing what it was supposed to do, a new report says.

The Commonwealth Fund’s health care annual report says fewer Americans are reporting being burdened by the cost of accessing health care.   Read More…


Tax repeal could give medical firms double windfall (

Republicans and many Democrats in Congress want to repeal the roughly $3 billion-a-year tax on medical devices that’s part of the Affordable Care Act. Undoing the tax will mean a big boost in profits for the industry.

But there’s another business windfall buried in the bills that Congress is considering. Not only would the future tax be repealed, but the taxes already collected would be refunded. Any company that had paid the tax would get its money back.   Read More…


For Minnesota nurses, staffing study provides few answers (Rochester Post-Bulletin) 

A long-awaited study on nurse staffing levels at Minnesota hospitals has prompted fresh division between nurses and their employers.

The Minnesota Nurses Association had hoped the state’s study would help nail down firm patient-to-nurse ratios. But the research didn’t find cause and effect in staffing levels and patient outcomes.   Read More…

Health News Today – July 25, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • Michelle Larson hired to oversee new medical marijuana program
  • How does the ACA impact public school system health care costs?
  • MN Hospital Association says physician shortage in state is happening now
  • Child well-being in state is ranked fifth in the US


State hired top medical pot official (

A health official who managed Minnesota’s efforts to reduce tobacco use and obesity will run the state’s new medical marijuana program.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Wednesday that Michelle Larson, a deputy director in the department’s Office of Statewide Health Improvement, would direct the new program.   Read More…


The Affordable Care Act and Faribault Public Schools (Faribault Daily News)

Turns out, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act isn’t so affordable to every school district in the state of Minnesota.

Faribault Public School District administration can breathe easy, though, because ISD 656 isn’t going to make this list of struggling schools.   Read More…


Minn. doctors may be in short supply (

Primary care doctors may soon be in short supply, a Minnesota Hospital Association report showed Monday.

“Many of our hospitals, especially those in greater Minnesota, already have difficulty attracting physicians,” association President Lawrence J. Massa said. “I hope this new information will provide an impetus to policy makers to make the urgent decisions needed on both the state and federal levels to give our health professional students access to the clinical training and residency experience they need to become licensed to practice.”   Read More…


Minnesota child well-being ranks fifth in nation (

When it comes to a child’s well-being Minnesota ranks 5th overall in the nation. The 25th annual kids Count Data Book examined 16 indicators across four areas. They include economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

The report found a steep increase in children living in single-parent families and in high poverty neighborhoods. It also found high disparity rates for some children in the minority.  Read More…





In The News – Nov. 21, 2013

In health news today, Gov. Dayton says “no” to health plan extension; an explanation about why people must pay for unwanted health coverage; and a MN delegation continues the medical device tax debate.


Minnesota goes against Obamacare fix; will not grant 1-year extension (

Gov. Mark Dayton announced Monday that Minnesotans will not be able to keep existing insurance coverage under the federal health care law, despite saying last week that he supported President Barack Obama’s plan to allow it.

Dayton’s decision not to grant the one-year extension on existing plans followed harsh criticism of the proposal by major Minnesota insurance companies.   Read More…


Why are people required to pay for unwanted health coverage? (

Under the new Affordable Care Act, the health plans of almost 140,000 Minnesotans don’t comply with the new law. That’s because many lower-premium plans don’t include benefits like maternity, mental health coverage or prescription drugs that will now be required.

Across the country, that means millions of people’s policies will be cancelled while others might have to pay higher premiums.   Read More…


Minnesota delegation continues fight against medical device tax (Minnesota Public Radio)

There aren’t many issues that unite the Minnesota congressional delegation, but the effort to get the medical device tax repealed is one of them.

The tax, part of the Affordable Care Act, went into effect in January. Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken say the 2.3 percent tax on companies like Medtronic and St. Jude Medical will cost jobs and stifle innovation.   Read More…

In The News – Nov. 14, 2013

In today’s health news headlines:

  • Docs and researchers give new statin guidelines a thumbs up
  • Rep. John Kline investigates impact of ACA on schools
  • Why drugs used to fight cancer cost so much
  • Law-breaking nurses pose risk to unsuspecting patients and families


Minn. MDs, researchers favor new statin guidelines (Minnesota Public Radio)

For nearly a decade, many physicians and patients have lived by the mantra of driving down so-called “bad” cholesterol.

But under new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiologists, a patient’s low-density lipoprotein cholesterol doesn’t matter as much. Read More…


Latest health law hearing overseen by Rep. Kline who is studying impact on schools (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

There’s another congressional hearing into the launch of the nation’s new health law and this one is being overseen by a Minnesota congressman.

Republican Rep. John Kline was convening the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Thursday for a review of the law. He’s the committee’s chairman.   Read More…


Cancer drugs offer a little more life for a lot more money (Minnesota Public Radio)

In 2012, a new drug for treating colon cancer — Zaltrap — was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and hospitals across the country started prescribing it to patients. But in an unprecedented move, one of the country’s most prestigious cancer care centers, Memorial Sloan-Ketterling, refused to stock the drug.

The reason? The drug was expected to cost nearly $11,000 a month, and only extend life for about a month and a half.   Read More…


Patients, families are in the dark over risky Minnesota nurses (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Leslie Anderson had no reason to distrust the nurse she let into her home to care for her 4-year-old daughter, who requires around-the-clock medical attention for a rare disease that has left her a quadriplegic and unable to talk.

Five months later, Anderson caught the nurse, Kelli Ingalls, stealing her daughter’s pain medication.   Read More…

In The News – Nov. 13, 2013

Today’s health news includes articles about health care subsidies; Gov. Mark Dayton speaks out on existing health plan coverage; doctors voice concerns about physician shortage; and Northfield’s hospital gets a special award.


$0 credit subsidy confuses MNsure consumers (Minnesota Public Radio)

Yvonne Araiza, of St Louis Park, is eager for health insurance. Currently uninsured because she can’t afford the premiums, she jumped on MNsure’s website on day one in search of an affordable plan.

“I was very excited to see what there was to offer,” Araiza said of the state’s online insurance marketplace. “And the fact that the pre-existing conditions…wasn’t going to be a consideration on how much you would have to pay.”   Read More…


Dayton: Americans should be able to keep insurance (

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday he believes all Americans should be able to keep existing insurance plans under the new federal health care law, another prominent Democrat adding pressure to the White House as it tries to manage criticism of its federal health care law.

Dayton stressed that he has little influence as governor over the decision.   Read More…


Minnesota doctors search for cure to looming physician shortage (

Dozens of Minnesota doctors are hoping to cure a problem that will impact all of us: a shortage of physicians. About 80 Minnesota M.D.s met in Minneapolis Tuesday evening to talk about solutions for the coming shortage.

The Minnesota Medical Association hosted the Primary Care Physician Workforce Summit after organizing a special task force to address the issue.   Read More…


Northfield hospital earns patient safety award (

Northfield Hospital was recently recognized by Minnesota Hospital Association for superior performance on improving patient safety.

The hospital received a “Partnership for Patients Excellence Award” from the MHA Hospital Engagement Network, a consortium of healthcare facilities dedicated to reducing preventable hospital acquired conditions and preventable hospital re-admissions.   Read More…

In The News – Oct. 18, 2013

Today’s health headlines:

  • MNsure reports 3,700 Minnesotans are signed up for insurance
  • Controversy still surrounds health insurance exchange
  • New health care firm hired for inmate care
  • ACA continues to present challenges and opportunities

Health news headlines from around the state to keep you informed. Follow us on Twitter @HealthInMinn


MNsure signs up 3,700 so far for health insurance (

Minnesota’s health insurance exchange on Wednesday released its first data on enrollment, showing that two weeks into its launch more than 3,700 people have signed up for health insurance coverage.

It’s a relatively slow start to the state’s delivery system for increasing insurance coverage rates under the federal health overhaul. MNsure officials said 3,769 people have either finalized enrollment or are waiting for payments to be processed…   Read More…


National, local controversy greets opening of new state health exchange (Twin Cities Daily Planet)

MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange program, debuted the signup process on October 1. Officials during an October 4 conference call with reporters, including the MSR, estimated that 5,000 accounts were opened during the first week.

“We think it’s been going very well,” remarked MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov. She added that many people did “anonymous shopping” but did not disclose specific numbers.   Read More…


New medical provider chosen for Minnesota prisons (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The Minnesota Department of Corrections has hired a new firm to oversee medical care in state prisons, severing a 15-year relationship with a corporation that became the target of lawsuits and staff complaints alleging substandard care.   Read More…


Affordable Care Act: changes, challenges and opportunities (Brainerd Dispatch)

On the insurance side of health care changes, insurance agents report confusion with changes, frustration in getting certified and an opportunity to insure people who previously were turned away.

Beginning with the new year, the Affordable Care Act requires all U.S. citizens and legal residents to obtain health insurance. States were able to create their own options and Minnesota created MNsure (   Read More…

In The News – Oct. 1, 2013

Today is the day. MNsure officially becomes available to the public interested in purchasing health insurance plans. The topic dominates health news headlines around the state.


MNSure. Who is for? Not everyone. (Minnesota Public Radio)

As health insurance marketplaces go online in every state today as part of the Affordable Care Act, surveys indicate that confusion abounds over how the so-called exchanges will work and who should use them. The president’s health care overhaul relies heavily on the exchanges, like MNsure in Minnesota, to expand access to insurance. But MNsure isn’t for everyone.   Read More…


Minnesota’s homegrown health insurance exchange pays off (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Less than a year ago, we Minnesota leaders had a critical decision to make. We could either have a health insurance exchange imposed upon us by the federal government on Oct. 1, 2013 — as Gov. Scott Walker opted for in Wisconsin — or we could create our own exchange.

We chose to do it ourselves.

MNsure is Minnesota’s new online marketplace for health insurance, a place where people can comparison-shop and pick the insurance that’s right for them at affordable prices.   Read More…


MNsure won’t be ready to go Tuesday morning (The Republic)

Officials with Minnesota’s state-run health insurance exchange say they expect to know later in the morning when consumers can start using the system to shop for health care.

MNsure officials said Monday they want to make sure the system connects properly with federal computer systems and that it’s secure.   Read More…


Ramsey couple donate $1 million to local hospitals (Coon Rapids Herald)

The Mercy and Unity Hospitals Foundation got a big boost in its three-year “Legacy of Caring” capital campaign to raise $8.4 million for various projects thanks to a $1 million donation from a Ramsey couple.

The $1 million donation from Jim and Pam Deal that kicked off a capital campaign that runs through 2015 is the largest gift ever made to the foundation and it will help in its quest to improve care for cardiovascular and cancer patients, and women giving birth at the Allina Health facilities, according to an Allina Health press release.   Read More…

In The News – Sept. 26, 2013

Today’s headlines:

  • State’s health insurance exchange premiums lowest in nation
  • Kline and Paulsen feel heat from tea party over Obamacare
  • Klobuchar, Hatch say repealing med device tax no longer an option
  • Tips to navigate MNsure


Minnesota health exchange premiums lowest in the nation, feds say (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Are premiums on Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange the lowest of any rates that will be offered across the country?

Yes, according to a new federal study.

Maybe, according to health care experts.

Absolutely! DFLers say.  Read More…


Kline, Paulsen feel tea party threat over ‘Obamacare’ (Minnesota Public Radio)

Two of Minnesota’s Republican congressmen are getting pressured as Congress struggles with a budget plan and the federal health care law.

Tea party conservatives want U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen to cut spending and kill the federal healthcare law, which they have long derided as “Obamacare.”   Read More…


Amy Klobuchar, Orrin Hatch warn of repealing medical device tax now (

The leading Senate backers of a push to repeal the medical device tax are warning that the government funding bill currently under consideration isn’t the right venue for this fight.

“Right now, it’s not part of the strategy,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the leading Democratic sponsor of legislation that would repeal the 2.3 percent levy on device manufacturers.   Read More…


Quick tips on navigating MNsure (

Minnesota is days away from launching its new health insurance program as Minnesotans will pay the lowest average monthly premiums in the country.

That’s according to new numbers from the Obama administration made public on Wednesday.   Read More…

In The News – Sept. 16, 2013

Today’s health news from around the state include two articles about (what else) the state’s health insurance exchange; and an interesting trend in the acceptance of medical device technology among baby boomers.


Getting personal with your health insurance exchange questions (Minnesota Public Radio)

With the launch of new health insurance exchanges just about two weeks away, many of the questions in this month’s mailbag focused less on the big picture and more on exactly how the law will operate for individuals.

We can’t answer every question we get. But here is a sampling of questions that were really popular, or that would apply to a lot of people.   Read More…


Minnesota needs young people to sign up for health care (Austin Daily Herald)

Robert Bauer is young, lean and healthy – just the kind of person the government wants to buy into its new health insurance exchanges.

Bauer though, doesn’t see the need. The 24-year-old works in organic farm fields three days a week, and prides himself on eating well. He’s uninsured now and doesn’t plan to buy coverage this fall in the exchanges, a key part of the federal overhaul of health programs in the Affordable Care Act. “I just don’t think it’s worth the money for me to get health insurance at this point.”   Read More…


Boomers’ embrace of devices gives rise to new med-tech age (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Jay Alva’s sneakers pounded the treadmill, set to the speed of a brisk walk. Sweat dripped off the 53-year-old as he hit a groove during a recent workout.

For almost two decades, the youth soccer and football coach from Eagan moved like a man who needed a walker. A degenerative hip condition prevented Alva from running with his players or even doing basic things like tying his shoes.  Read More…

In The News – Sept. 10, 2013

Health news headlines today include:

  • MPR looks at the Affordable Care Act and why resistance still exists
  • Boynton Health Services opens U of M mental health clinic on St. Paul campus
  • Scientists gather at U of M to map the connections of the human brain


Top 5 myths about ‘Obamacare’ that refuse to die (Minnesota Public Radio)

The Affordable Care Act has been on the books for almost three and a half years. But myths about the law persist.

Many people are confused about the law because it is big and complicated, said University of Minnesota political science professor Lawrence Jacobs, who has studied and written about Obamacare.   Read More…


Organizers trying to drum up support for Affordable Care Act (Minnesota Public Radio)

Anne Jones recently visited the Minneapolis Farmers Market to pass out fliers she hoped would debunk persistent myths about the federal health care overhaul.

“We’re trying to counter the notion that this is a government takeover of the health care system,” said Jones, of Minneapolis, a member of Organizing for Action. The non-profit group, an offshoot of President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, aims to support his national agenda.   Read More…


St. Paul mental health clinic opens (Minnesota Daily)

A new mental health clinic on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus opened Monday, the latest in a joint initiative among University departments and student groups to increase mental health services on campus.

The clinic, an expansion of an existing clinic in Coffey Hall, should help decrease wait times for students seeking mental health assistance, said Dave Golden, director of public health for Boynton Health Service.   Read More…


The most complex map ever drawn (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Some of the nation’s top scientists got together at the University of Minnesota recently as part of an effort to outline one of the most ambitious medical research projects in history: mapping the connections of the human brain.

The so-called BRAIN initiative made a splash when President Obama announced it earlier this year, but it’s impossible to overstate the difficulty of the challenge. An average 3-pound brain has about 86 billion neurons, each with some 10,000 connections. Those connections would produce “terabytes of data per patient,” said Dr. Sydney Cash, a Harvard University neurology professor. That’s the equivalent of several thousand copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica — for one patient.   Read More…