- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015
MNsure health insurance rates to go up as high as 49 percent

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Health insurance premiums for Minnesota residents buying coverage through MNsure or directly from providers will increase by as much as 49 percent on average next year, state officials announced Thursday, a major jump that the state’s top insurance regulator said calls for additional reforms to control costs.

The 2016 cost increases range from 14 percent for enrollees on a Medica plan to 49 percent for customers on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the state’s largest insurer. All eight companies selling insurance on the individual market posted double-digit percentage rate increases for next year.

Most Minnesotans won’t feel the hit - less than 6 percent of residents buy insurance on the individual market, compared to more than 80 percent who are covered through employers or on public programs. But the individual market is at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care law and the health insurance exchanges such as MNsure it gave way to.

Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman called the increases “unacceptably high.” He said they were driven by a smaller, higher-cost pool of consumers than initially projected - a sentiment echoed by health care experts and the insurers themselves who have suggested prior years’ rates were too low.

“We had rates that were not appropriate,” said Danette Coleman, Medica’s senior vice president for individual business. “Rates that we’re starting to see now really are more reflective of the risk that exists in the individual market.”


Trial of indicted Minneapolis nonprofit head moved to 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The federal fraud trial for a former Minneapolis nonprofit leader has been postponed until April.

William Davis and his son, Jordan, were supposed to stand trial in November on charges they siphoned public money for personal use or claimed expense reimbursements they weren’t permitted to. A revised schedule in the case was filed Thursday.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to push the trial back because complexity made earlier time limits “inadequate and unreasonable under the circumstances of this case,” according to the order.

Davis led the now-closed Community Action of Minneapolis for years and has deep connections in state Democratic politics. The younger Davis is a Minneapolis police officer currently on administrative leave and had received paychecks from the community organization. Both have entered not guilty pleas.


Dem Rep. Atkins skips run for Minnesota congressional seat

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Veteran Minnesota state Rep. Joe Atkins is passing on a run for Congress.

The seven-term Democrat said Thursday he wouldn’t seek the suburban seat being vacated by Republican Rep. John Kline. Atkins says he’s looking at running for a different office in the future, but declined to say which.

He says he believes he can accomplish more in the Legislature than he could in a hyper-partisan Congress.

Despite a flurry of interest soon after Kline announced his planned retirement, there have been few entrants into the 2nd Congressional District race. The district runs from south of St. Paul to towns hugging the Mississippi River.

Two Democratic businesswomen, Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence, are seeking the seat. Former state Sen. John Howe and consultant David Gerson are after the GOP nod.


Woman walking with husband struck, killed in St. Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - St. Paul police say a 63-year-old woman on her daily walk with her husband was run over by a car and died at a busy intersection.

Police identify the victim as Kunlek Wangmo, of St. Paul. The Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1VsINt0) reports the driver, a 29-year-old woman, stopped immediately.

The crash happened shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday. A police spokesman says at the time Wangmo was run over, she and her husband were about three-quarters of a mile into their daily walk from their downtown apartment.

Kevin Welna says he heard a man standing on the corner screaming “My wife! My wife!” after the woman was struck.

A spokesman for United Hospital says Wangmo was on the housekeeping staff at the hospital, barely a block away from her apartment.

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