As we celebrate our history and take pride in our nation this July 4th, the Dayton Administration and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) encourage Minnesotans to take extra care and caution while behind the wheel.
In Minnesota, July 4th has been the deadliest day on the road for the last three years, resulting in 15 traffic deaths over the 24-hour period. “The spike in drinking and driving deaths during the Fourth of July is a clear and simple reminder why Minnesotans need to plan ahead for a sober ride” says Donna Berger, director of the DPS Office of Traffic Safety. During the holiday travel period, 66 percent of traffic deaths are a result of drunk driving.
With a stated mission “to create a culture for which traffic fatalities and serious injuries are no longer acceptable,” The DPS, along with the Departments of Health and Transportation, the State Patrol, and others, have started the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) initiative which works through “education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency medical and trauma services” to improve road safety for Minnesota citizens.
A 30-day public comment period begins today for the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) plan to reform significant portions of Medical Assistance (MA), Minnesota’s Medicaid program.
DHS wants to empower consumers when it comes to issues concerning their own health. In order to address peoples’ health needs earlier and ensure the long-term sustainability of health care services in the state, DHS has unveiled a plan – called Reform 2020 – to redesign the state’s Medicaid program to better serve Minnesotans.
“This plan will give people more choice, get them services earlier and in less costly settings and help secure the stability of our programs for years to come,” said DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.
The plan encompasses three major areas of DHS’s reform efforts: serving people better in the home and community, improving integration of chemical, mental and physical health, and transforming the way the state purchases health care. The plan is a result of bipartisan legislation and part of the 2011 budget agreement and is designed to be budget neutral.
On March 23, 2012, Governor Mark Dayton, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Seblius, U.S. Senator Al Franken, and Congresswoman Betty McCollum attended a roundtable discussion with women and mothers to discuss how the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, has put Americans back in charge of their health since it was signed into law two years ago.
For over 70 years, National Dairy Month has been celebrated in the United States during the month of June to recognize the important role dairy plays in our nation. In the infographic above you can see some of the most important benefits dairy has for Minnesota, or, for more information, visit the website of the Midwest Dairy Association.
In a recent editorial for Access Press, a Minnesota disability news outlet, Steve Larson, senior public policy director for The Arc Minnesota commended state leaders for their work to reverse a number of funding cuts to Minnesota Health and Human Services (HHS).
These reversals delayed cuts to the wages of personal care attendants and disability service providers until the next legislative session and reduced the cut to community services for 2,600 Minnesotans with disabilities by half. ” Disability advocates will need to fight again next session to make these reversals permanent,” says Larson.
The issues of funding to key Health and Human Services sectors were first highlighted by Governor Dayton in his 2012-2013 supplemental budget proposal, and were ultimately addressed with his signing of the HHS omnibus budget bill, a bipartisan effort which restored roughly $18 million in funding lost during the 2011 budget compromise. This new spending was offset by savings to the state from a 1 percent cap on health plan profits negotiated by the Dayton Administration which resulted in the return of $73 million to state and federal taxpayers .
In a matter of days, there will be a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that will have significant ramifications for health care in the United States and Minnesota. The Supreme Court will issue its ruling on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care reform law. While the decision will likely generate further national debate, it’s important to acknowledge that the decision won’t change some basic facts about health care in Minnesota.
Minnesota has been a pioneer in health care for more than a century and, regardless of the Court’s decision, we will continue to be a national leader. We have taken a local, commonsense approach to improving the health of our communities, lowering cost through high quality care and providing affordable coverage in our state. No matter what the Court decides, Minnesotans already know how to collaborate to improve our health care system and move forward together, in the best interest of our state.
While Minnesota’s health care system does better overall compared to the rest of the country, we all still struggle with unsustainable health care costs and lack of access to care. More than 14 percent of our state economy is consumed by health care costs and even with this spending, nearly 490,000 Minnesotans are uninsured. The fear of unaffordable health care holds back entrepreneurs who want to set out on their own and keeps small businesses from new hiring or raising wages. If we don’t take action to address these concerns, the problems will only grow as Minnesota’s demographics change and our population ages.
In 2010, the Minnesota Legislature enacted legislation allowing the Department of Human Services to develop a Collaborative Psychiatric Consultation Service. Now, the Minnesota Department of Human Services has entered into a two-year, $1.7 million contract with the Mayo Clinic to deliver specialized guidance to primary care providers and pediatricians who prescribe psychotropic medications for children. The new service is referred to as “collaborative psychiatric consultation” and is based on pilot projects that have been shown to improve quality of care and save money.
Many features of the contract were based on recommendations from the Children’s Psychiatric Consultation Protocols Workgroup. The two-year state and federal investment of $1.7 million in the program is expected to be completely offset by lowered costs for inpatient hospitalizations and medications in the state’s Medical Assistance (MA) program—the state's version of the state-federal Medicaid public health insurance program. Use of the service will be required for Medical Assistance fee-for-service payment for certain psychotropic medications, although all Minnesota physicians will be encouraged to use the service on a voluntary basis.
While developing this service, DHS sought input from pediatricians, family practice physicians, nurses, mental health professionals, families, advocates, school staff and many others who care for children and youth with mental health needs. The contract with the Mayo Clinic integrates many of the suggestions that DHS received from this broad range of stakeholders.
Lt. Governor Prettner Solon convened the first meeting of the “Own Your Future” Advisory Panel, a group charged with guiding a statewide public awareness campaign to encourage Minnesotans to plan for the care they will need as they grow older.
The group aims to raise awareness of the importance of advance planning in ensuring that Minnesotans have more control and more choice in meeting their long-term health care needs. The focus of the panel is to develop and implement strategies to increase the number of Minnesotans who take action to address and provide for their future long-term care. “We need to engage all Minnesotans in thinking about how they will plan for and pay for the care they are likely to need as we, as a society, are living longer and growing older,” Prettner Solon said.
In addition the panel will aid in the development and review of materials for use by Minnesota employers, grassroots organizations and community groups, and provide outreach assistance in a public awareness effort. The Lieutenant Governor expressed gratitude “for the assistance […] of Minnesotans representing key sectors of labor, business, health care, the faith community and non-profit organizations” in working towards these goals.
Minnesota is already a high-risk area for Lyme, a disease found primarily in northeastern and upper Midwestern states. A record-high 1,293 cases of Lyme were reported in 2010 and many experts predict we are on track to have more this year. Ticks can survive Minnesota’s harsh winters and become active when the temperature reaches 38 degrees, so while these parasites usually won’t be seen until March, they may have been active in January and February this year.
Lyme is carried by the Eastern blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. They are smaller than the common American Dog tick – better known as the wood tick. In order to prevent picking up a tick and the Lyme bacteria they can carry, take precautions when outdoors this summer. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends you avoid walking in brush or tall grass if you are in wooded areas; keep your feet, ankles, and legs covered; and use an insect repellant containing DEET on uncovered skin (except the face).
If you find a tick, remove it by the head with a tweezers – pulling it off by the body can leave the head embedded in your skin, increasing the risk of Lyme transmission. If you are unable to do this, visit a doctor. Since early treatment is key to a quick recovery, you should also visit a doctor if you suspect you may have contracted Lyme. Symptoms include a red “bulls-eye”-type rash around the bite area, as well as joint pain, fatigue, and flu-like fever or chills.
Minnesota has long been recognized as one of the healthiest states in the nation and a role model for others across the country in protecting and promoting the health of its people. In recognition of Minnesota’s achievements in public health and to promote future accomplishments, Governor Mark Dayton has declared this week to be Public Health Recognition Week.
"The successes of public health often go unrecognized," said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota Commissioner of Health. "In fact, most people may not know that public health accomplishments, not medical care, were responsible for 25 of the 30 years of life gained by Americans during the 20th Century." Those accomplishments include vaccination, motor vehicle safety, disease control, safer and healthier foods, and recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard.
Public health has played a crucial role in laying the foundation for good health and longevity in the state. Preventing disease, controlling environmental health hazards, and promoting healthy behaviors have all been an important part of helping Minnesotans live longer lives free of disease.