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Christopher Snowbeck

Reporter | Business
Chris has covered health care stories at four different daily newspapers since 1994. His work at the Star Tribune focuses on health insurers, hospitals and the state's MNsure health insurance exchange. Previously, he worked at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Va., and the Indianapolis News.
Recent content from Christopher Snowbeck

Minnesota seeking federal funds for its reinsurance program

The Commerce Department estimates a new state program will save the federal government up to $167 million next year.
Medica cutting 250 more jobs as it exits major state contract

Medica cutting 250 more jobs as it exits major state contract

Minnetonka-based Medica is eliminating 250 more jobs following its decision last year to drop a major state contract in public health insurance programs.
Boston Scientific sales leap 10 percent, but profit misses expectations

Boston Scientific sales leap 10 percent, but profit misses expectations

The medical device maker saw first-quarter revenue growth of 10 percent.

Blue Cross pays $45K penalty on network issue

Commerce alleged the health insurer's system did not update properly.
MNsure weighs tighter sign-up rules

MNsure weighs tighter sign-up rules

The exchange can follow the feds' lead or side with consumer advocates.
Abbott holds steady on release date for new ICD

Abbott holds steady on release date for new ICD

Company expects clearance for a new defibrillator later this year despite FDA warning letter.
Medtronic selling medical products business in $6.1B deal

Medtronic selling medical products business in $6.1B deal

Ohio-based Cardinal Health picks up a variety of patient monitoring and recovery products, plus 17 manufacturing facilities
No health coverage? ACA endures and so does tax penalty

No health coverage? ACA endures and so does tax penalty

Since Republicans have not repealed and replaced the ACA, the mandate remains in place.
Despite 2016 losses, Blue Cross CEO 'cautiously optimistic' about individual market

Despite 2016 losses, Blue Cross CEO 'cautiously optimistic' about individual market

Too soon to say whether premiums are covering individual plan claims.
Outgoing HealthPartners CEO says divisiveness is hampering progress

Outgoing HealthPartners CEO says divisiveness is hampering progress

Retiring HealthPartners CEO Mary Brainerd said industry is in an unusually anxious period.
Study: Big hospitals outside Twin Cities grow profits

Study: Big hospitals outside Twin Cities grow profits

Analysis of 2015 data adds a wrinkle to findings from a hospital trade group.
Trump to nominate U economist for key job at HHS

Trump to nominate U economist for key job at HHS

U health care economist would serve as an assistant secretary.

Health plans in Minnesota saw their worst year in a decade

State insurers' $687 M in red ink fits national pattern, analysts say.

Minnesota health insurers sue for 'risk corridor' funds

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Medica and Sanford Health are among insurers suing over the lack of payouts in safety net program.
State says Medica is trying to manipulate contracts with lawsuit

State says Medica is trying to manipulate contracts with lawsuit

Agency says Minnetonka HMO ditched contract, now wants to return.
Feds join second whistleblower case against UnitedHealth

Feds join second whistleblower case against UnitedHealth

The Minnetonka-based insurance company is accused of making false claims regarding Medicare patients that resulted in overpayment of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Getting a faster go-ahead on medications

Getting a faster go-ahead on medications

Fairview Health Services has shortened the time patients must wait to receive approval for drugs subject to 'prior authorization' requirements from health insurers

Industry study finds income lags for Minnesota's rural hospitals

Hospital trade group says rural medical centers struggle due to low payment rates from government insurance programs.
Study finds GOP health bill shifts costs to older, poorer buyers

Study finds GOP health bill shifts costs to older, poorer buyers

The Kaiser study projects significant increases for older people in rural Minnesota and modest savings for some younger people.
TV ads bumped up ACA signups, U study finds

TV ads bumped up ACA signups, U study finds

U researchers declined to cite cause-and-effect, but said TV campaign, enrollments overlapped.

Feds investigate insurers' Medicare billing for possible fraud

The disclosure came in a whistleblower case against Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group.
Minn. hospitals don't back GOP health care replacement bill

Minn. hospitals don't back GOP health care replacement bill

The trade groups for hospitals, doctors and insurers are concerned by the potential loss of health insurance coverage.
Medica sues Minnesota DHS over public insurance contract

Medica sues Minnesota DHS over public insurance contract

The HMO said it was offered a worse deal than other providers.
New Medica chief charts course in rough waters

New Medica chief charts course in rough waters

Telling Medica's story in the individual market is just one of the challenges facing John Naylor, the new chief executive.
Fairview and UCare won't merge after all

Fairview and UCare won't merge after all

Deal endured delays since the agreement in April.
Mayo spending $217 million on construction in Rochester

Mayo spending $217 million on construction in Rochester

The clinic plans to expand and renovate spaces at its St. Marys campus about 1 mile west of Mayo's main site in downtown Rochester.
Children's cancels Blue Cross contract, affecting 70,000

Children's cancels Blue Cross contract, affecting 70,000

Children's Minnesota ends Blue Cross contract in a move that could affect 70K patients.

MNsure role might shrink with ACA repeal

The GOP proposal calls for making tax credits available to consumers outside the exchange.
Minnesotans who study health care repeal plans see huge changes

Minnesotans who study health care repeal plans see huge changes

Republican-led bill would cause wrenching cutbacks but could enhance market forces.

Minnesota hospitals report increased community benefit spending

A new report on 2015 expenses found significant growth in hospital costs for treating Medicaid patients.
HealthPartners CEO Mary Brainerd to retire after 15 years at the helm

HealthPartners CEO Mary Brainerd to retire after 15 years at the helm

Health care nonprofit says that longtime executive Mary Brainerd will be succeeded by Andrea Walsh.

Feds issue $2.5 million fine against UnitedHealthcare

Federal audit indicates prescription plans did not align with Medicare rules, boosting out-of-pocket costs.
UCare hiring for a comeback

UCare hiring for a comeback

Back big in the market, insurer expects to receive 150,000 new subscribers with Medicaid, MinnesotaCare coverage.

Mayo earnings hit by Medicaid, labor costs

Despite headwinds, the workforce still managed to grow by 5 percent.
They're allowed in Minn. again, but for-profit HMOs face uphill climb

They're allowed in Minn. again, but for-profit HMOs face uphill climb

The Legislature reversed a statute from the 1970s to try to boost competition.

Mayo Clinic investing $70 million in Mankato hospital

Construction is expected to begin later this year on expansion of the hospital's surgical suite.

MNsure courts last-minute health plan shoppers

Some in individual market can still enroll by March 1.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota cutting 50 jobs

About half the layoffs stem from outsourcing behavioral health services.
Whistleblower suit alleges UnitedHealth defrauded Medicare

Whistleblower suit alleges UnitedHealth defrauded Medicare

A whistleblower lawsuit alleges that UnitedHealth Group's data analytics division helped the Minnetonka-based insurer and other health plans defraud the federal Medicare program by "upcoding" risk adjustment scores to boost payment rates.
UCare making big comeback in public health insurance programs

UCare making big comeback in public health insurance programs

The HMO will pick up most of the counties that Minnetonka-based Medica will vacate this spring.
Growth in cost of medicine moderated in 2016, study finds

Growth in cost of medicine moderated in 2016, study finds

The annual rate of overall increase slowed even as lawmakers railed against price hikes on EpiPens.
Proposed sign-up limits for health insurance worry MNsure board

Proposed sign-up limits for health insurance worry MNsure board

The Trump administration says the change could stabilize the insurance market, but two MNsure board members voiced concerns.
That's a wrap: New gowns make their way into local hospitals

That's a wrap: New gowns make their way into local hospitals

Methodist Hospital joins medical centers launching improved attire for patients.
The future after Obamacare? Look to Minnesota's past

The future after Obamacare? Look to Minnesota's past

The state's experience with high-risk pools shows that you can cover thousands of people who are denied coverage by private insurers — but that it isn't cheap for the public or the patients.

Health insurers say they need insurance protection from big claims

A tiny fraction of patients in the individual market rack up 40% of all medical bills.

Despite uptick at MNsure, Minnesota's individual market declines 30 percent

Insurers called the decline alarming and warned that it could force further premium increases.

Audit finds errors remain in Minnesota's public insurance programs

Audit finds eligibility problems in system result in a continued high rate of overpayments.

Hospitals balk at tight networks in rural parts of Minnesota

Some medical centers cry foul about loss of local patients to distant options.
Medica's return to individual market means second option for 62 Minnesota counties

Medica's return to individual market means second option for 62 Minnesota counties

The insurer had reached cap but now has about 7,000 slots to sell.

Insurers extend sign-up deadline in Minnesota's individual market

Feb. 8 date allows consumers to take advantage of new state rebates for 2017 coverage.
State hopes '25 percent off sale' will draw health plan shoppers

State hopes '25 percent off sale' will draw health plan shoppers

Lawmakers this week provided the 25 percent premium rebates to certain people buying through the state's individual market.
MNsure says most tax forms have been sent out

MNsure says most tax forms have been sent out

Officials with the state exchange expect the documents to be on time.
Why the Allina-Aetna partnership could shake up insurance market

Why the Allina-Aetna partnership could shake up insurance market

The partnership shows big hospitals are dabbling in the health plan business.
Allina Health and Aetna to launch insurance company in Minnesota

Allina Health and Aetna to launch insurance company in Minnesota

For-profit firm is latest in Minnesota to combine a hospital and clinics operator with an insurer.
UnitedHealth sees potential in 'next phase' of health reform

UnitedHealth sees potential in 'next phase' of health reform

CEO Hemsley says insurer has "no better sense than anyone else" about what is coming.

Medica eliminates 100 jobs linked to dropped state contract

The move comes about six weeks after Medica decided to not renew a large HMO contract in public insurance programs.
Insurers puzzle over health law limbo

Insurers puzzle over health law limbo

Insurers watch and worry as Congress eagerly makes first moves to repeal ACA.
MNsure reports record enrollment of 100,000-plus

MNsure reports record enrollment of 100,000-plus

Sign-ups rise about 20 percent from last year with three weeks left to enroll.
Optum buying surgery center group for $2.3 billion

Optum buying surgery center group for $2.3 billion

With the deal, the UnitedHealth Group division greatly expands outpatient surgery business.

Feds say Abbott Northwestern wrongly billed Medicare for $8M

The government report flags Medicare payments to the hospital for rehabilitation services.
Longtime Medica CEO retiring; insider to assume top post

Longtime Medica CEO retiring; insider to assume top post

David Tilford has led the health insurer since it became an independent company in 2001.

Fairview merger adds Grand Rapids hospital

The Minneapolis-based health system now operates two hospitals on the Iron Range.
Obituary: Alix Gabrielle Kowler fled the Holocaust, shared the story

Obituary: Alix Gabrielle Kowler fled the Holocaust, shared the story

Alix Kowler’s father believed allegiance to his native Austria would protect his family as anti-Semitism spread in the 1930s. This faith was shaken in November…
State officials ask FBI to review alleged 'robocall' attack against MNsure

State officials ask FBI to review alleged 'robocall' attack against MNsure

Dayton blames automated calls for clogged exchange.

100,000 people in Minnesota can still enroll in January health coverage

"Special enrollment" is available to those with individual market plans being terminated for '17.
MNsure sign-ups double last year's pace

MNsure sign-ups double last year's pace

Tax credits offered only through the exchange likely played a key role.
Hospitals face uncertain prognosis with Affordable Care Act up in the air

Hospitals face uncertain prognosis with Affordable Care Act up in the air

The promised repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act is raising questions among hospital systems in Minnesota.
Fairview, Blue Cross reach agreement on contract, retaining care for 250,000

Fairview, Blue Cross reach agreement on contract, retaining care for 250,000

The agreement ends uncertainty for patients about whether they'd need to switch doctors or pay more to visit the physicians they know.

More shoppers going to MNsure as deadline approaches

Exchange sees uptick in response to big rate jumps for 2017; others are leaving the troubled individual market.
Report: 744,000 Minnesotans could be affected by ACA change

Report: 744,000 Minnesotans could be affected by ACA change

Report estimates that they have health problems that could prevent coverage.

Start-up Harken Health to exit exchanges in Atlanta, Chicago as part of market shift

Harken Health, the start-up health insurer from UnitedHealthcare, is shifting focus after suffering big losses in the individual market.
Vendors pitch MNsure on website upgrades

Vendors pitch MNsure on website upgrades

Amid uncertainty, the state health insurance exchange wants to improve the online experience for shoppers.
Blue Cross, Fairview dispute snags 45,000 in Medicare

Blue Cross, Fairview dispute snags 45,000 in Medicare

Such contract disputes often get resolved at the 11th hour, but open enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries ends Wednesday, and confused patients are scrambling.

Medica's exit from state's public health programs raises tough questions

The HMO says it won't be an option for more than 300,000 in state public programs beginning in May.

Minnesota Medicaid shake-up to affect 311,000

The move would impact health insurance coverage for more than 310,000 enrollees.
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