Did costs slow, or merely get shifted?


The Jan. 8 headline "Rise in health care costs remains on slower pace" may give some reason for optimism regarding the dramatic rise of health care costs in recent years. However, reading the article and between the lines leads to a whole different conclusion. Only Medicaid spending grew slower, and hospital services had a small cost decrease, while costs increased for Medicare, for doctor and clinical services, for prescription drugs, and for consumer out-of-pocket costs.

There appears to really be a cost-shifting as many consumers accept much higher deductibles to contain cost increases. Further, reduced economic circumstances require avoiding medical care and costly drugs for many. Perhaps people are even working harder to improve their own health with natural medicine to avoid the system completely. In any event, health care prices will continue to increase at a faster rate than most other goods and services.


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Republican David Hann, the incoming state Senate minority leader whose party wants to draw "stark contrasts" between Democratic and Republican positions in the coming session ("GOP regroups, looking for way back to majority," Jan. 7) says that, on the issue of health care, his goal will be to protect the health insurance industry "so that people who work in that industry are not going to lose the opportunity to make a living." Perhaps Hann is unaware that the United States spends dramatically more per capita on health care than any other industrialized country in the world (with far inferior health outcomes), predominantly because the health insurance industry makes such a nice "living" standing between doctors and patients. Or does he simply believe that, as with the Republican take on the environment, corporate profits are paramount to all other concerns?


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Mail suggests who's spreading data around


A Jan. 8 headline reads: "Data snoopers tough to track."

No, they are not.

I have an aunt -- let's call her Linda Francis Olson. As an experiment, she gave her information to the state of Minnesota alternately as L.F. Olson, L. Francis Olson, Linda F. Olson, etc.

She in turn received junk mail addressed to each different name.

I carry a motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license and register a boat with the state.

So I get junk mail regarding bikes and boats.

So who is selling this information? I have a guess.


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A troubling story, a needed spotlight


Thank you for your sustained coverage of the gang rape and subsequent death of 23-year-old medical student in New Delhi, India. As a person of Indian descent, a woman and a mother, I found her story deeply troubling. Each new article brought out more issues and complexities, from a damaged transportation infrastructure, a corrupt police force, a backlogged judicial system, a violent patriarchy, as well as the unending aftermath of poverty, race, caste and gender. Let us move toward continuing the difficult work of creating peace and safety for all global citizens.


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An open letter to Vladimir Putin


Dear President Putin:

My name is Victoria McGrath, and I am a 14-year-old girl living in Minnesota. I want to tell you that I think Russia's decision to ban adoptions by U.S. citizens is a bad idea. Russia is taking out its adult problems with the United States on kids, and that stinks.

I was adopted by U.S. citizens from an orphanage near Kudymkar, Russia, seven years ago when I was 7 years old. I was placed in the orphanage by the Russian government after my biological parents' parental rights were terminated. I am glad for the care I received from Russia, but it does not compare to having a forever family. Kids in Russia should be able to have families -- like I have with my mom and dad -- where the children are loved and safe.

My adoption has taught me that it does not matter where a kid is from or where parents are from. What matters is that children have an opportunity to live with a family, something that would not have happened for me in Russia. Please change the law back so that the Russian kids can find homes in the United States, in Russia, and anywhere else they can find loving parents.

Thank you.


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All along, great hockey has been available


NHL lockout over? I can't say I ever noticed when it started. With the Minnesota Gophers, men and women, and all the high school teams, I get to enjoy watching the best amateur hockey available. Not to mention, admission to those games is as little as $7 -- $5 for me as a senior citizen -- and I get to see two games: junior varsity and varsity. As an added benefit, I personally know many of the players.


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St. Cloud extension would benefit many


The Jan. 7 Letter of the Day pointed out that the drive between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities "is just too daunting" for older drivers. I would suggest it is dangerous for drivers of all ages. Extending Northstar to St. Cloud would reduce congestion on Interstate 94 and give St. Cloud area residents better all-weather access to the airport.