Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL — Kate Swenson says Americans do not understand what Medicaid does. For her family, "Medicaid means my son can live at home," the Cottage Grove, Minn., said Monday, Sept. 25, as Medicaid advocates gathered in Gov. Mark Dayton's office to say they worry about a Republican-written bill due to come up soon in the U.S. Senate. "If that goes away, I don't know what we would do," Swenson said. "Public schools cannot serve him. ... If we lost it, my son will regress dramatically."
ST. PAUL — Federal officials appear ready to approve Minnesota's request for money that would lower individual health insurance premiums, but at the same time take money away from the MinnesotaCare state-subsidized insurance program for the poor.
WASHINGTON — The Minnesota native who appears about to become deputy U.S. agriculture secretary says one of his priorities is to help farmers and ranchers adapt to changing weather and climate. Steve Censky, who grew up near the southwest Minnesota town of Jackson, did not use the term "climate change," but in Tuesday, Sept. 19, testimony to the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee he made it clear that dealing with the controversial issue could be key to agriculture's success.
WASHINGTON — A southwestern Minnesota native goes in front of a Senate committee Tuesday, Sept. 19, as nominee for the No. 2 man of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Senators will consider whether to accept President Donald Trump's nomination of Jackson-area native Steve Censky as deputy secretary. Also on the 8:30 a.m. agenda will be confirmation of Indiana Agriculture Director Ted McKinney as undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural policy affairs.
WILLMAR, Minn. — Estrella Paxtor Lopez sat motionless in the dental chair, a perfect patient. Dental student Nick Schulte and dental assistant Sara Enderle worked on her teeth with nary a problem. It was a Friday pediatric day at the Rice Regional Dental Clinic in Willmar, a rare service that brings dental work to rural Minnesota. Most counties outside the Twin Cities have too few dentists available, according to medical leaders. And with the average age of Minnesota dentists reaching 56, increasing retirements are expected in the near future.
ELY, Minn. — Angie Lundsten was thrilled. The Hayward, Wis., woman sat in her local medical clinic telling Dr. Stephen Park she had lost 15 pounds in the past month. "I have struggled with my weight a lot," she said, but after trying two other doctors, she said she is on the right track with Park.
Editor's note: This is one of several stories about what is called a rural Minnesota health care crisis. Primary-care doctors, long the cornerstone of rural America's medical community, are becoming increasingly hard to lure. Interviews with health care leaders across Minnesota showed a combination of factors adding up to a medical doctor shortage. The shortage of primary-care physicians is everywhere, but more acute in rural areas. A lack of specialists is especially felt outside the Twin Cities.
Editor's note: This is one of several stories about what is called a rural Minnesota health care crisis. A mentally ill person should not be treated for the disease in an emergency room. Or sitting in a jail. But that is what often happens in rural Minnesota, where there are not enough health care professionals such as psychiatrists to treat them. And there are not enough psychiatric hospital beds even if the professionals were available.
Editor's note: This is one of several stories about what is called a rural Minnesota health care crisis. BIGFORK, Minn. — Small-town hospitals and clinics may not have all the bells and whistles of their big-city counterparts, but they offer something patients often cannot find in the cities: quarterbacks. "You have a quarterback here," said Dr. Heidi Korstad, sitting in the cafeteria of Bigfork Valley, a sprawling medical complex of hospital, clinic, nursing home and other facilities in a town that falls short of 500 population.
BRAINERD, Minn. — Howard Cronquist baled hay the other day, and also fit in some time to work on one of his farm buildings. That may not be big news for many farmers, but it is for him. Fifteen months ago, the rural Brainerd man suffered what was described as a major stroke. He and his wife, Sharon, credit his recovery to a combination of his hometown hospital and a Twin Cities neurologist stroke expert being in the emergency room via video to help local health care professionals.