Category Archives: health care

Gutting health insurance: the Minnesota Republican way

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All these conditions could be excluded from health insurance coverage under Republican legislation.

Minnesota Republicans want to free health insurance companies from providing any benefits: “Notwithstanding any state or federal law to the contrary, a health plan company may offer health plans that do not include federally required health benefit mandates.” As I read it, this would allow insurance companies to refuse to pay for vaccinations or valve replacements, for contraceptives or cancer treatment. Insurance companies would be free to pick and choose what they cover and what they exclude – and who they cover, and who they exclude for pre-existing conditions or any other reason. That’s in the bill passed by the Minnesota House of Representatives on January 19. Continue reading

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Filed under health care, health insurance

Sex, Russians, and the Affordable Care Act

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Sex. Russians. Sex and Donald Trump and the Russians.

Now that I have your attention, consider this: whatever Donald Trump did in a Russian hotel is far less damaging to the United States than what the Republican Congress is doing right now in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

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Filed under health care, health insurance, human rights, Tracking Trump

That will be $39.35 to hold your baby

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When Lisa and Ryan Grassley brought baby Samuel home from the hospital, they laughed at one part of the bill: $39.35 for “skin to skin after C-Sec,” the charge for the privilege of holding their baby after delivery. The charge exemplifies the convoluted system of charges and record-keeping made necessary by the insurance industry system of payment for U.S. health care. In contrast, the BBC reports, “The average cost for a normal delivery or planned Caesarean section in the NHS in England in 2016 is £1755 [$2168], rising to £2582 [$3199] if there are complications.” Both charges are far below the cost of hospital delivery in the United States. And both represent the total cost — without need for a complicated breakdown of charges for everything from aspirin to diapers to holding the baby. Continue reading

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Healing Health Care: A plan for Minnesota

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Senator John Marty has a single-payer plan for Minnesota health care. (Photo by Senate Media Services)

John Marty wants to make Minnesota a leader in real single payer health care. In a new book, Healing Health Care (free, available on-line), he outlines many of the problems with our current, insurance-controlled health care system and proposes an alternative, the Minnesota Health Plan. Continue reading

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Cheating the caregivers

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You might think that kindness and care for people who are elderly or disabled should be rewarded. Not in this state. Not in this country. Instead, the low-paid personal care attendants who serve on the front lines of home health care face the awful choice of neglecting the  people they care for or working without pay. Continue reading

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In sickness and in health: St. Paul stories

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Fatuma Ali told about her old job, running a ride at the Mall of America. “I know what it’s like not to be able to leave the job,” she said. One day she was sick. “I had to stay at my ride for five hours, while being sick in the garbage can every 30 minutes,” she recalled. She had no sick time. If she had left her job, she said, she would have been fired. Continue reading

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In sickness and in health: Working in Minnesota

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[CORRECTED 6/21/2016] Sick pay for sick days, a nurse’s strike, and the desperate situation of home health care aides and the people they care for: three stories about workers in Minnesota highlight both the positive power of organizing and the need for more support for workers. Continue reading

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Whispers and shadows and Mental Health First Aid

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Chirlane McCray, first lady of New York City, said her parents’ depression was “talked about in whispers and shadows.” Now she’s talking out loud about mental health, trying to bring it out of the shadows. Hiding or ignoring mental health issues hurts all of us. Everyone has a family member, friend, or co-worker who is affected. One in four people in this country suffers from some mental illness or addiction each year. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, taking at least 41,149 lives in 2013. Minnesota’s suicide rate has risen sharply since 2014. Continue reading

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Filed under health care, police and crime

Wage theft in Minnesota

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Steven Suffridge worked nights at a fast food restaurant. Sometimes his supervisors said he had to work straight through the mandatory 30-minute break, but the restaurant still deducted the time from his paycheck. That’s one of the examples of wage theft cited in an investigative series from Workday Minnesota. Other examples come from janitors, health care workers, construction, on-line jobs, and more. Continue reading

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Filed under health care, work

“Those people” are our neighbors

Sue Swain speaking at NAMI press conference. Also pictured, Sue Abderholden and Jill Wiedemann-WEst

Sue Swain speaking at NAMI press conference. Also pictured, Sue Abderholden and Jill Wiedemann-WEst

“In February 2009, I was desperate,” Sue Swain said. “My life was out of control and I needed help.” Already stressed by work and being a family caregiver, she now had to contend with a cancer diagnosis. The combination was too much to handle. But Swain found help at the Diane Ahrens crisis residence. During three days there, she ate nourishing meals, got help with managing prescriptions, and found counseling to deal with her burdens. Her short stay at the crisis residence, she says, was the “first and most critical step on my path to wellness.”
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Filed under health care, St. Paul Notes