Health care

The key components of the state’s exchange

The Sept. 10 commentary “State has to get its health exchange right” offered three important suggestions:

• First, the “active purchaser” option would allow the commission to set standards and proper limits on the number of companies listed. Uwe Reinhardt, a respected health care economist from Princeton, put it this way a few years ago: “The more choices one has, the greater the chance of making a bad choice.”

• Also, the members of the commission have to meet strict conflict-of-interest standards. Health care and insurance professionals can certainly present their best faces, but they should not be making the decisions.

• Finally, the commission needs to be supported financially, at least in part, by reasonable participation fees. An exchange is not going to reduce health care costs by itself.

These days, even those of us in the profession have all kinds of trouble figuring out how much the organization bills for services and how much those “retail” prices are discounted by the insurers and government programs.

At the same time, health care professionals work hard, try sincerely to help people and deserve a decent income. Unfortunately, it takes lots of them to do the job. Those top executive salaries and “perks” are really a small part of the total.

Dr. Robert E. Doan, Plymouth

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The workplace

Ending employee flexibility is a cop-out

Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly’s defense for ending the “Results-Only Work Environment” employs the tortured logic we often see from public figures as they try to distance themselves from their own statements and policy decisions after seeing how awful they look in print (“Let me clarify my thoughts on leading,” March 18).

Despite Joly’s claims, ROWE is not a leadership style. It is a flex scheduling/telecommuting option, similar to that at many other companies. It provides an option to help employees be productive and maintain a good work-life balance. Joly falsely claims that it depends on delegation only and is therefore not always appropriate. As an example, he states that a manager should not delegate to him the job of building a wall, because he would do a poor job of it. That’s probably true, but only a poor leader delegates a task to an employee who has no chance of success.

Most forward-thinking companies recognize that effective leaders weave together a variety of techniques, including coaching, motivating, directing and even delegating — all at the same time, and dependent on the person, the role and the task. The move away from flex scheduling and telecommuting is not leadership, but rather lazy management. Instead of hiring and training the right employees for the job and providing clear goals and objectives for which they are accountable, Joly prefers the easy measure of performance based on whether your butt is in a chair from 8 to 5.

Greg Schultz, Rosemount

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The schools

Kids actually benefit when held accountable

This is a question for the Mound Westonka High School parents who keep calling for heads to roll in the wake of the “Harlem Shake” food-fight suspensions: Do you permit your children to throw food around your house?

I am the parent of a recently graduated Mound Westonka ­student-athlete. Our son wasn’t perfect and was suspended from at least one significant athletic event. We always found the teachers, coaches and administrators to be professional, conscientious, fair and caring as they performed their challenging jobs. Of course, our son didn’t like it at the time, but he accepted the consequences of his actions stoically like the thoughtful young man he is becoming. We appreciate the staff at MWHS for helping us teach accountability and how what you do can affect others.

I do not think we became a great society by coddling children when they misbehave.

Brad Johnson, Minnetrista

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Might we greet the kill with a little less glee?

I’m not sure if I’m the only one who thinks this, but I’m really tired of seeing smiling people (usually, but not always, middle-aged men) kneeling over animals they’ve shot. I’m especially tired of it on the sports page. First of all, what these guys are doing is not really a sport, right? Can we at least all agree on that? Unless we’re giving the moose or deer the same weapons and equipment, so it’s fair, it’s not sport.

If the Star Tribune really thinks there is a demand for these photos (in color, mind you), I suggest you find a new spot for them — maybe they could be in the obituary section? The deaths reported there are also sad, and many are unfair.

Gail Stewart, Minneapolis

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Winning streak wasn’t all that it seemed

A recent article about Drew Horwood, the Maple Grove native who won eight straight times on “Jeopardy,” reported that only two contestants in 29 years have won for more than nine days in a row.

From 1984 to 2003, there was a rule on the show that the maximum amount of victories a contestant could have was five. Among the multitudes of contestants who reached that level, many might have gone on to several more victories. Far too much credit was given to Horwood.

Damon Cross, Maple Grove

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Catholic Church

Better to be poor …

I have to wonder if the irony is deliberate when the story touting the new pope’s “simplicity, poverty, rigor” is accompanied by a photo of men draped in silk and gold, standing before an assembly of heavy gold objects worth enough to feed a village for a year. Ah, well, I suppose it’s true: The rich are different.

Steve Hoffmann, Anoka