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Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon Leads Effort to Improve the Lives of Minnesotans with Disabilities

Posted on June 04, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Categories: Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon, Health

photo_yvonne_prettner_solon.jpgSpeaking at the Department of Human Services Tuesday, Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon outlined Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan, which will help improve the quality of life enjoyed by Minnesotans with disabilities.

The plan lays out the state’s goals to ensure that Minnesotans with disabilities have the freedom and opportunity to live independently, to contribute to the workforce, and to become fully integrated into their communities.

“Those who can live independently should own the choice to live on their own,” the Lt. Governor said. “As a state, we should be doing everything we can to make that possible.”
The Olmstead Plan takes its name from the 1999 United States Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C. The decision ruled that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In January 2013, Governor Dayton created an Olmstead Sub-Cabinet to oversee the implementation of a plan to better meet the needs of persons with disabilities living in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Prettner Solon, chair of the Olmstead Sub-Cabinet, said that once implemented the plan will have a profound impact on the lives of Minnesotans.

“More and more Minnesotans with disabilities will have the courage, skills, and support to step forthrightly into their communities, work with purpose and dignity in our local businesses, and reach with confidence for their highest aspirations,” she said.
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Destination Medical Center Will Create Tens of Thousands of New Jobs

Posted on May 23, 2013 at 3:17 PM
Categories: Health, Budget, Jobs


In Rochester earlier this week, Governor Mark Dayton was joined by Speaker Paul Thissen, Majority Leader Tom Bakk, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, Mayor Ardell Brede, local legislators, and other community leaders in announcing a historic Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative. This 20-year public-private partnership is aimed at securing Minnesota’s competitive position as an international hub for health care and medical advancement, and making the Rochester region an economic center for job growth and business development. The state’s $455 million investment in the project over the next two decades will leverage an estimated $5.6 billion in local and private investment, and create tens of thousands of new jobs in Minnesota.

“This initiative will secure Minnesota’s position as one of the world’s premiere destinations to receive medical treatment; it will create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs for Minnesotans and make Rochester an even better place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Governor Dayton. “Those who said that state government should play no role in a project like this are just flat out wrong. This project demonstrates the value state government can bring to the table. By partnering with the private sector, we can accomplish great things together for the people of Minnesota.”

Over the last 150 years, Mayo Clinic has earned an international reputation for excellence in health care and medical advancement, treating more than half a million patients in its Rochester facilities every year. Today, Mayo Clinic is Minnesota’s largest employer, providing good-paying jobs for more than 40,600 Minnesotans, including over 33,000 in Rochester, and generating a $9.6 billion annual economic impact to the State of Minnesota – roughly 4 percent of the state’s total GDP. And each year, Mayo Clinic contributes approximately $1.5 billion in tax revenue to the State of Minnesota and local governments.


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Budget for a Better Minnesota: Investing in the Middle Class

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Categories: Budget, Health, Jobs, Education

Governor Dayton and DFL legislative leaders at a post-session press conference

On Tuesday, Governor Dayton and DFL legislative leaders held a press conference to talk about middle class investments made in the Minnesota state budget

The budget passed by Governor Dayton and the DFL legislature puts fairness back in the system.  It strengthens Minnesota’s middle class and our economy by lowering property taxes and making investments in education and job creation to move Minnesota forward.

The budget closes the deficit for the long term and makes spending cuts and reforms.  It pays for new investments in education and job creation by asking the richest 2% of Minnesotans to pay their fair share and closing corporate tax loopholes. 

  • A Historic Investment in Education:  For the first time in its history, Minnesota will offer All-Day Kindergarten to every child in Minnesota.  We are giving thousands of children access to high-quality preschool and child care.  And we are freezing tuition for the next two years at the University of Minnesota and all MnSCU campuses and increasing student financial aid to make higher education more affordable for middle class families. With nearly a billion dollars in new money for education, this budget invests in every learner in Minnesota – from early education through higher education.  This new funding will help give our kids access to a world-class education and train the best-educated workforce in the world. This budget will also eliminate the school shift by the end of the next biennium. [ Read more ]
  • A Growing Economy that Creates Middle Class Jobs – Minnesotans need a strong economy for good jobs, living wages, and a strong middle class. That is why the Governor and the DFL legislature took bold action this session to create jobs, strengthen our infrastructure, and make our state a more competitive place to do business. The budget enacted this session invests in job creation efforts that will leverage billions of dollars in private sector investment in Minnesota’s economy, make our state a more competitive place to do business, and get tens of thousands of Minnesotans back to work.  [ Read more ]
  • Property Tax Relief for Minnesotans – Property taxes have increased by 86% statewide over the past decade, with increases falling hardest on the middle class, seniors, and small businesses. This session, we invested over $441 million in property tax relief for Minnesotans by restoring the state’s commitment to cities, counties, and school districts, and providing direct relief to homeowners and renters. [ Read more ]
  • A Fair Tax System – According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, low-and middle-income Minnesotans pay 20% more of their income in state and local taxes than the wealthiest Minnesotans. In order to honestly resolve our state’s budget deficit, make new investments to strengthen the middle class, and invest over $441 million in property tax relief for Minnesotans, the budget enacted this session asks the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans to pay 2% more in income taxes. With an average income of over $617,000, the richest 2% are the only Minnesotans who are asked to pay more in income taxes. [ Read more ]
  • A Fair and Balanced Budget – A decade of deep cuts, games and gimmicks have caused Minnesota to lurch from one budget crisis to the next; limiting our ability to fund education and job creation. This session, the Governor and DFL legislature put an end to roller-coaster deficits with a fair and balanced budget that puts Minnesota on sound fiscal footing and delivers investments to strengthen the middle class. [ Read more ]

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Governor Dayton Appoints Seven-Member Board to Manage MNsure

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 11:00 AM
Categories: Health

mnsure_board

Today, Governor Mark Dayton announced the appointment of a seven-member board responsible for managing and operating MNsure – a new health insurance marketplace where Minnesotans can choose quality, affordable health insurance. The board, which was established by law earlier this legislative session, was chosen through the state’s open appointments process from a pool of 112 candidates. Board members will serve staggered four-year terms. With the exception of the Commissioner of Human Services, all members are limited to two terms of service.

“The individuals chosen to serve on this board represent a broad diversity of experience and expertise,” said Governor Dayton. “Their collective breadth of knowledge, and each board member’s shared commitment to the successful development and delivery of this new health care marketplace, will serve the best interests of all Minnesotans.”

According to state law, membership on the board must include representation from outside the seven-county Metro area. One of the six members must have experience representing the needs of vulnerable populations and persons with disabilities. All appointed members of the board have demonstrated that they do not have any conflicts of interest. Board members appointed today by Governor Dayton include:

Thompson Aderinkomi , Founder and CEO, RetraceHealth. Mr. Aderinkomi has more than 14 years of experience helping health care organizations use their data effectively. Currently, he is the founder and CEO of RetraceHealth, which is an innovative technology provider that delivers primary care services to members. He began his career managing the finance department of CareMate Home Healthcare. From there, he performed program evaluations, created predictive models, and studied health insurance reimbursement for Ingenix (which is now Optum Health) and Medica Health Plans. In 2009, Aderinkomi co-founded Evidity, which is a health-care data analytics firm that serves the physician market. He is also serves as the board chair for WATCH MN, a domestic abuse monitoring agency, and as a board member of Youthprise, an education focused group working to increase the quality, accessibility, sustainability, and innovation of opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.

Pete Benner, Independent Consultant. Mr. Benner is a consultant on health care, labor relations, and public policy. Prior to consulting, he worked for many years with AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees). Benner is the former Executive Director of AFSCME Council 6, where he was the lead negotiator with the State of Minnesota in designing the insurance benefits for state employees and their families. He also sat on many boards and commissions relating to health care including: Minnesota Health Care Access Commission, Minnesota Health Care Commission, Minnesota Citizen’s Forum on Health Care Costs, Governor’s Health Care Transformation Task Force, Governor’s Health Care Reform Task Force, Minnesota Community Measurement, and the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement.

Brian Beutner, CEO, mPay Gateway. Mr. Beutner is a consultant working with start-ups and their founders as they try to expand their innovative concepts into viable businesses. Until April 2013, Mr. Beutner was the CEO of mPay Gateway, a venture-banked healthcare software company that has developed financial products and services to support healthcare payments. In the past, Mr. Beutner spent seven years with UnitedHealth Group working in various capacities, including General Counsel of UnitedHealthcare. At UnitedHealth Group, he helped found its financial services business and chartered Exante Bank, now Optum Health Bank, which is the first successful bank built by a healthcare company. Mr. Beutner previously served as General Counsel of Jostens and practiced law with Oppenheimer Wolff and Donnelly. Beutner served as an adjunct professor at Hamline University Law School, where he created and taught courses on business and healthcare. He currently serves on the Hamline University School of Law Health Law Institute Advisory Board. Mr. Beutner previously served on the board of directors of the Courage Center Foundation; the foundation is a supporting organization to the Courage Center.

Kathryn Duevel, OBGYN, Affiliated Community Medical Care (retired). Dr. Duevel is an OBGYN physician. She worked at Affiliated Community Medical Centers in Willmar, Minnesota for more than 20 years until June 2012. In addition to her MD degree from the University of MN, she has a Master of Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College. Dr. Duevel was previously a member of the executive board of the MN ACOG(American College of OBGYN) and Rice Memorial Hospital's Medical Staff Executive Committee while also serving as Vice Chief of Staff and Credentials Chair. She currently leads Rice Memorial Hospital’s OB Patient Safety Committee and was a founding board member for the Kandiyohi Area Family YMCA. She has served as a volunteer physician with the Remote Area Medical Women’s Health Program in Guyana, South America and African Medical Mission in South Africa.

Tom Forsythe, Vice President of Global Communications, General Mills. Mr. Forsythe has worked for General Mills for the past 22 years, where he is currently Vice President of Global Communications. He has served as a board member of Twin Cities Public Television, Twin West Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota State University Board, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, where he also served for a year as Chairman of the Board. In 1991, Forsythe worked on behalf of the business community advancing health care reform, including the legislation that created Minnesota Care. Forsythe was later appointed by Governor Arne Carlson to the Minnesota Health Care Commission, and by Governor Tim Pawlenty to the Minnesota Health Care Transformation Task Force, where he advocated for market-based, consumer-oriented health care.


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Celebrate Earth Day with the MPCA

Posted on April 22, 2013 at 1:58 PM
Categories: Earth Day, Health

Every day is Earth Day

On Earth Day this year it is especially noticeable how polar our planet can be. Unseasonable temperatures last year gave way to one of the wettest, coldest, and longest, springs this year. While this could be interpreted as Mother Nature’s cruelty, it’s more a sign of our planet’s fragility.

While the MPCA stresses “Every day is Earth Day”, April 22 is the one time a year that everyone should take notice of our environment. For those hoping to celebrate proactively, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has 5 ways you can go a little greener this year.


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April is Autism Awareness Month in Minnesota

Posted on April 02, 2013 at 2:57 PM
Categories: Health

blog_autism_awareness.jpg  Governor Dayton presents proclamation to families who are working to raise autism awareness across the state of Minnesota.


Today, Governor Mark Dayton met with parents and children with autism at the  Autism Speaks, "Light It Up Blue," awareness event in the Governor's Reception Room.   Governor Dayton has proclaimed April as Autism Awareness Month. One in every 110 children in the United States are diagnosed with autism, and similar levels are seen around the world. The number of children diagnosed with autism appears to be rising each year.

Autism Spectrum Disorder, which includes Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Development Disorder, is a series of neurologically-based developmental disabilities that affect brain development in children, disrupting their ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the United States and typically appears in early childhood, usually before the age of three. There is no cure for autism, however intensive and early treatment can make a big difference in many children’s lives. 

In 2007, World Autism Awareness Day was adopted by the United Nations to raise autism awareness and to promote early diagnosis and early behavioral interventions.

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Infographic: MNsure Benefits Minnesota Families

Posted on March 27, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Health

An estimated 1.3 million Minnesotans will benefit from legislation recently signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton, including nearly 300,000 Minnesotans who are currently uninsured. The bill establishes a new marketplace where Minnesotans can choose quality, affordable health coverage, and will save Minnesota families and businesses an estimated $1 billion in health care costs by 2016. Explore the infographic below to learn how the new MNsure marketplace will benefit Minnesota.

Blog - Infographic: MNsure


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A letter from Commissioner Lucinda Jesson: Why MinnesotaCare Matters

Posted on March 07, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Categories: Health, Budget

Commissioner JessonAlmost 100 years ago, a nun of the Order of St. Benedict began selling tickets to lumberjacks in the camps of northern Minnesota. Those tickets entitled the holder to full care for a year at any of the five St. Mary’s hospitals. This person of faith began one of our country’s first hospital prepayment plans, and, together with the Mayo brothers, launched Minnesota on the path to become the nation’s most innovative state for health care.

In more recent history, Democrats and Republicans worked together to start MinnesotaCare, which made health insurance available to low-income, working families. MinnesotaCare’s bipartisan creation became a model for other states, and ultimately for the federal government.

Now, 20 years after its creation, MinnesotaCare needs improvement, to make it more streamlined and affordable. But, unexpectedly, we first must ensure that this nation-leading program continues to exist.

Federal health reform means that changes are coming. The new federal model expands Medicaid for the very poor. But absent action taken at the state level to provide for something better, people making more than $15,000 a year will now largely be given a federal subsidy to buy coverage through a health insurance exchange. This would include many people currently on MinnesotaCare.

For most states, this new model is a major step forward. And while the Medicaid expansion will bring progress for Minnesota, too, a wholesale switch from MinnesotaCare would be a step backward for vulnerable, low-income people. MinnesotaCare provides more-affordable care than the high-deductible health plans that many working families would access through the federal model.

That is why we again have Minnesota Republicans and Democrats coming together to fight for the future of MinnesotaCare. Last week, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken joined U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz, Collin Peterson, Erik Paulsen, Rick Nolan and John Kline to send a letter to the Obama administration requesting federal partnership to preserve and improve MinnesotaCare. A similar bipartisan letter from state legislative leadership was issued in late January.



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State Agencies to Eliminate Use of Harmful Chemical

Posted on March 04, 2013 at 4:59 PM
Categories: Environment, Health

Minnesota state agencies are eliminating the use of a harmful chemical in their offices found in several household cleaning products. Through Executive Order by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in April, 2011, all state agencies will no longer purchase hand soaps and dish and laundry cleaning products that contain triclosan by June of this year. State agencies are required to implement plans to reduce pollution and toxics, increase energy efficiency, and conserve resources.

The Interagency Pollution Prevention Advisory Team (IPPAT) has the ability make changes to the Model Sustainability Plan within Governor Dayton’s Executive Order 11-13. The state recently developed contracts for hand soap and dish and laundry cleaning products that are triclosan-free. In some situations, uses of triclosan-containing products may be allowed in medical or other specific settings.

Triclosan is antibiotic resistant and causes health and environmental problems. It is an ingredient in products such as hand soap, toothpaste, cleaning products, fabric, toys, kitchenware and industrial pesticides. There is no evidence that triclosan provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water. Triclosan-free products are readily available in many stores.

“By purchasing items without triclosan, state agencies are doing their part to keep this harmful chemical out of Minnesota waters,” said Cathy Moeger, sustainability manager at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.


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Today in the Budget

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Categories: Transportation, Health, Budget

MN Mayors, Commissioners, and Metropolitan Council Chair Haigh

Today, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and Metropolitan Council Chair Sue Haigh were joined by a group of mayors and county commissioners at a Capitol news conference urging legislators to support Governor Mark Dayton’s proposal to increase Minnesota’s investment in transit.
 
Joining Rybak, Coleman, and Haigh were Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller, Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke, Savage Mayor Janet Williams, and Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris. In their words, Governor Dayton’s transit plan: "would create a 21st century transit system in Minnesota, which is critical for job creation, economic prosperity and our ability to be globally competitive."
 
This afternoon, Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller will meet with college students in Winona to discuss student debt, and Governor Dayton’s plan to increase higher education funding – including $80 million in direct financial aid to students. The governor’s proposed investment in the Minnesota State Grant Program would help make college more affordable students like Rahel Theodros. Under the governor’s plan, Rahel would receive an additional $1,200 in direct student aid. More information about Rahel’s story is attached and below.
 
Later today, Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson will visit with hospital administrators and medical professionals in St. Cloud. Commissioner Jesson will discuss health care investments in Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, and other strategies to reform Minnesota’s health care system.
 
 
In the News
 
Winona Daily News
William Mann: Budget proposal helps make college possible for some
 
As the president of Saint Mary’s University, one of the three institutions of higher education that call Winona home, I am compelled to speak for our students and families and commend Gov. Mark Dayton for making quality, affordable college education a priority in his most recent budget proposal.
 
Particularly meaningful among the priorities he has laid out is a 25 percent increase in funding for the Minnesota State Grant program. The state grant is a need-based state award which offers low- and middle-class students at Minnesota colleges or universities an annually renewable grant for tuition, books or living expenses while attending college. The program benefits students attending both public and private institutions of higher education.
 
The proposed increase to the state grant would help even more low- and middle-class families pay for college. According to the state Minnesota Office of Higher Education, current grant recipients would see their grants increase by an average of $300 per year. And 5,000 additional students would become eligible to receive grants. Many of these newly eligible recipients come from middle-class families that earn $50,000 or more per year and are ineligible for the federal Pell Grant.


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