Is it an entitlement or a benefit? And what should be the role of government?

There are differences among Minnesotans over whether people are entitled to health care or should gain it through employment, according to a recent survey commissioned by the University of St. Thomas business school.

Daniel McLaughlin, a former CEO of Hennepin County Medical Center and director of the Center for Health and Medical Affairs at UST, said ORC International surveyed 1,004 adults in the state.

It found that more than half of respondents believe that health insurance should be a constitutional right. Older, full-time working, male, white and high-income respondents are more likely to believe that insurance should be an employee benefit. Younger, less-educated, unemployed, female, and lower-income respondents are more likely to say health insurance should be a constitutional right.

McLaughlin recently asked his business students, many of whom work for health care companies, what can be done to improve health.

“It surprises me that young people I teach in the MBA program — including students who work in health care for Medtronic, UnitedHealth Group and Allina — when asked about what can we do to improve health, suggest government-centered taxes on fatty foods, apps on phones and more government-centered initiatives,” McLaughlin said. “That surprised me from folks who work in the private-sector health care business.”

Those companies do profit from taxpayer-subsidized programs such as Medicare, which covers elderly Americans, and Medicaid for the poor. They soon will amount to half of the nation’s total health care payments.




Bridgewater Bank buys bank of the banks

Bridgewater Bank has completed its acquisition of First National Bank of the Lakes of Orono near Lake Minnetonka.

Bridgewater, led by former bank regulator and business veteran Jerry Baack, said the acquisition adds $75 million in assets and branches in Orono, Richfield and Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood.

“Our strategy has remained focused on growing efficiently and profitably,” Baack said. “Through this acquisition, Bridgewater gains premium branch locations, expands core deposits and diversifies the loan portfolio.”

The Bloomington-based bank, with assets of more than $1 billion, is among the 10 largest banks in Minnesota and also among the fastest-growing and most profitable.

Bridgewater Bank, which raised $15 million in private equity last fall, is putting some of into acquisitions.



Retrace Health raises $7M for expansion

RetraceHealth says it has secured $7 million in funding led by Lemhi Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Wayzata.

The latest funding includes previous investors Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthEast and McKesson Ventures.

RetraceHealth offers primary care via video visits and house calls.

“In a given year, most people spend less time with their doctor than they do watching a single television show,” Thompson Aderinkomi, the chief executive at RetraceHealth, said in a Thursday news release. “That does not bode well for their long-term health.”

The Minneapolis-based company is now talking expansion plans, including hiring more providers and growing its geographic coverage.

Earlier this year, RetraceHealth announced $1 million in funding from Eagan-based Blue Cross, St. Paul-based HealthEast and McKesson, which is based in San Francisco.




Truvía picks Carmichael Lynch and Spong

Carmichael Lynch and its public-relations agency Spong have landed a sweet deal.

The Minneapolis firms announced last week that they were named the integrated agencies of record for natural sugar substitute Truvía.

The agencies will be responsible for brand planning, advertising, public relations and digital content for Cargill’s zero-calorie sweetener.

“Carmichael Lynch and Spong’s seamless integration and truly differentiating creative campaign ideas make them the perfect partners to take Truvía to the next level,” said A.J. Aumock, Truvía global marketing leader, in a statement.

The firms were chosen through a competitive process that focused on the launch of Truvía’s newest product Truvía Nectar, which is a blend of honey and the stevia leaf extract that is the base of all Truvía products.

Carmichael Lynch and Spong’s work will begin immediately.