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Continued: Readers Write (May 13): Same-sex marriage, alcohol tax hike, hospital price disparities

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  • Last update: May 13, 2013 - 11:33 AM

Whatever the outcome of the marriage vote today in the Minnesota Senate, I will applaud not who “won” or “lost” but who will look their opponents in the eye and shake their hands. Now that would make this Minnesotan proud.

Jason Wittak, Maple Grove

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ALCOHOL TAX HIKE

Labor should think twice about opposing

Why is there no objection to taxes that cover everyone in all classes to pay for playgrounds for the wealthy (“A DFL plan labor can’t swallow,” May 10)? Where is the objection to taxes for boondoggle projects? To taxes on necessities such as clothing and services that would affect the poor and working class the most?

A tax on alcohol, just as on cigarettes, affects only those who choose to consume these products. Alcohol, when abused, destroys families and lives, just as cigarette smoking does.

I am a union member, and believe strongly in the labor movement, but I respectfully disagree with the position taken in this article on not taxing alcohol and sincerely hope that alcohol is not the heart of the middle class.

Dennis A. Johnson, Fridley

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HEALTH CARE

Digging deeper on price disparities

An additional point to the excellent analysis on variations in health care provider prices in Minnesota, (“Hospital prices show wild variations,” May 9) is that the high average payments for almost all procedures are coming from only six of 50 hospitals. I analyzed the 2011 Medicare provider data for Minnesota.

For each of the 100 procedures in the data set, I calculated “excess” revenues based on the difference between the average payment to the particular provider and average payment across all providers in Minnesota. Only six hospitals account for nearly all of the $60 million of excess revenues thus calculated. These excess revenues are offset by 10 hospitals who consistently take in below-average payments for nearly all procedures, thus accounting for the “wild variations.”

This variation across providers rather than procedures could be similar to the situation in which socks and T-shirts at Nordstrom are typically priced higher than socks and T-shirts at J.C. Penney. However, this calls for transparency not only of price but also quality of procedures. Therefore, the six providers who may need to justify their higher charges and excess revenues with greater value for patients are: The University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview; Mayo Clinic-Saint Marys Hospital; the Hennepin County Medical Center; Regions Hospital; Mayo Clinic-Methodist Hospital, and St. Cloud Hospital.

Navdeep Sodhi, Maple Grove

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