Rural Minnesotans Frustrated About Health Care + Internet Access

“Of all the issues, the price of health care dominated the list, with farmers and small business owners reporting costs of $25,000 to $45,000 per year in health insurance premiums and deductibles. . .

Wertish said those at the meetings voiced almost universal support for some kind of public health care option to be implemented, such as a buy-in option to Minnesota­Care or even a single-payer program. Other ideas have included more support for programs such as health care cooperatives, or reinstatement of a high-risk health care pool funded by insurance companies.” —Star Tribune, May 2nd

Respondents to the survey by the Minnesota Farmer’s Union also the raised the issue of internet access, which they said should be served as a public utility.

MN Senators Hold Net Neutrality Roundtable with Local Business Leaders

“U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith of Minnesota along with Sen. Ed Markey from Massachusetts on Friday met with local business owners, experts and advocates to discuss an effort to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s recent rollback of net neutrality rules.

During the roundtable discussion at Treehouse Health in Minneapolis, local stakeholders voiced concerns to the senators about how the new FCC rules — which allow internet service providers to block, slow down or speed up service to certain websites — have affected their work. Net neutrality required ISPs to treat all sources of content equally.” —Star Tribune, April 27th

To Curb Rising Health Insurance Costs, Some States Try ‘Reinsurance Pools’

“A couple of years ago, the health insurance exchange in Minnesota – MNsure – was in deep trouble. Health insurance premiums for individual policies had shot up by as much as 67 percent, among the steepest increases in the country.  Insurers were abandoning the market, leaving 116,000 Minnesotans with scant choices.

The Minnesota Legislature offered a solution: a $271 million, publicly funded reinsurance pool that would help health insurance companies pay the most expensive medical claims, thereby lowering overall insurance premiums. The hope was that backstopping the insurers would stabilize the market and halt the rocket-like rise in premiums.

So far, so very good. In its first year, the reinsurance pool has performed even better than expected. According to the Urban Institute, 2018 premiums offered on MNsure not only didn’t increase, they fell by 15 percent.” —Pew Research, April 9th

DFL Candidate Erin Murphy Holds Town Hall on Gun Control

“Nearly 100 Minnesotans gathered in a conference room in the basement of the Wellstone Center on April 7 for State Rep. and DFL gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy’s town hall meeting on gun violence.

The meeting was organized as part of the national Town Hall For Our Lives effort led by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and staff were killed in a mass shooting in February.

“While there is support for common sense gun violence prevention, it is probably the most divisive issue that I have worked on,” Murphy said. “There is a very organized voice on the part of the gun lobby, that has become way more clear…and limiting to an issue that most Minnesotans support.” ~The Mac Weekly, April 13th

MN Republicans Push Health Care Co’s to Post Commonly Billed Services

Minnesota lawmakers are proposing new requirements for health care providers to share with patients their prices on common procedures.

Under legislation moving through the state Senate, providers would have to post the prices for their 25-most commonly billed services at their clinic and on their websites.

Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, said during a news conference Thursday that gag clauses in contracts and rigid regulations are keeping patients in the dark. Jensen, a physician, said pricing transparency can lead to larger improvements in health care.

“Currently we don’t have a patient-centered free marketplace, because we’re not giving it a chance,” Jensen said. “How can you ask people to be responsible in terms of how they use their health care dollars, how they steward their resources, if we won’t tell them what the price is? It makes no sense.” ~MPR, April 7th

Students + Some Lawmakers Support Gun Control in Town Hall For Our Lives

“The call for gun reform went on at town hall meetings across Minnesota Saturday.

There were town halls hosted in St. Paul, Brooklyn Park and Sunfish Lake.

The room inside St. Anne’s Episcopal Church was packed with students and community members, ready to let their voices be heard on gun reform.

“It’s raising awareness to our politicians that we aren’t quitting and that we want to open this dialogue up,” Henry Sibley senior Devin Bauert said.

The town hall featured several lawmakers including Sen. Matt Klein, Sen. Jim Carlson and Congressional candidate Angie Craig.

The student group MNeverAgain, which organized the town hall, said they had invited representatives Regina Barr and Jason Lewis but they did not attend.” ~WCCO, April 7th

New Insurance Rule Means MN Premiums Rise

“Starting next year, the federal government won’t penalize people who don’t carry health insurance, so fewer people are expected to be insured. Hospitals, required to provide emergency care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay, are expecting more red ink as a result.

This might hurt a little.

“The insured patients have to make it up. Which means your insurance is going up,” said John Strange, CEO of St. Luke’s in Duluth.” ~St. Peter Herald, April 3rd

McKnight Foundation Sees MN Leading Fight Against Climate Change

“We really see a unique opportunity for Midwest leadership on this issue,” (Aimee Witteman, program director of Midwest Climate & Energy) said. “People talk a lot about technological innovation on the coast. But we think we are uniquely positioned to identify opportunities for Midwest leadership on climate change.”

In fact, Minnesota remains a leader on many fronts, she said. Businesses involved in clean energy employ more than 57,000 people in Minnesota, with jobs in the solar industry growing last year by 44 percent.” ~Finance & Commerce, April 3rd

Sen. Warren Limmer’s Refuses to Discuss Gun Control at MN Capitol

“Here’s why Limmer matters to a group of students who would probably rather not have spent the day with him. Limmer is the chair of the Senate Judiciary’s public safety committee. When it comes to public safety — and in this case, gun control — what goes before the Senate and when and how is his call. That’s why Groven and company picked him. They needed to get his attention.

But few have been able to get Limmer’s attention on gun control these days. Not even his fellow legislators.

They’ve proposed a slew of gun bills on everything from universal background checks to bans on bump stocks and military-grade weapons. They’ve proposed raising the purchase age of certain weapons to 21 and allowing families or police to petition a court to temporarily take away guns from people considered dangerous.

But thus far, Limmer has refused to allow hearings on any gun control matter, defying clear public sentiment. He’s not just blocking legislation. He’s refusing to even allow the issue to be discussed.” ~City Pages, April 3rd

MN House GOP Mark $0 of $50m School Safety Plan for Gun Control

“In response to Thursday’s announcement by Republican house members, House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman released the following statement: ‘Republicans are doing nothing on gun violence prevention. Minnesotans have a right to safe movie theaters, safe churches, safe college campuses and safe schools, and they won’t get that unless we address gun violence.'” ~PiPress, April 1st