Progressive Calendar 01.11.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 23:16:24 -0800 (PST)
           P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     01.11.07

1. Surge out now!   1.12 4:30pm
2. Kristen Olson    1.12 6pm
3. Iwo Jima/film    1.12
4. Alt/violence     1.12

5. Warming/MN water 1.13 10am
6. Colombia/US      1.13 10am
7. EJAM/env justice 1.13 10:30am
8. Janitors/SEIU    1.13 11am
9. NW N4P vigil     1.13 11am
10. Northtown vigil 1.13 1pm
11. Islam           1.13 2pm
12. Ceili           1.13 7pm

13. Cindy Sheehan   - Insanity surge
14. Kip Sullivan    - Scam! Your tax dollars and the HMOs
15. Gilman/Sullivan - Lourey, health insurance, Leg session

--------1 of 15--------

From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: Surge out now! 1.12 4:30pm

Protest & Picket Line: Surge Out Now!
Friday, January 12, 4:30 p.m. Federal Building, Third Avenue, Fourth
Street, Minneapolis.

The Bush administration is preparing for a major escalation of the war on
Iraq. This escalation is expected to include a so-called "surge" of
thousands of additional U.S. troops into Iraq. This escalation can only
lead to more deaths of Iraqis and U.S. military personnel. Polls have
shown that the majority of people in the U.S., as well as in Iraq, want
the U.S troops to leave that country. Neither U.S. citizens nor Iraqis
support a surge of troops into Iraq; they are calling for a withdrawal of
U.S. troops. Say "No to an escalation of the war on Iraq! Say No to the
"Surge" of Troops! Organizations around the country are calling to stop
the surge. This is an opportunity for Minnesotans to turn out in numbers
to let our continued opposition be clearly known. The people have spoken
and will not stop speaking until the troops are home. Initiated by: Iraq
Peace Action Coalition. WAMM is a member.

Call Congress.  Let Them Know Voicing Opposition Isn't Enough. They must act!

Today and until they act! Voicing their opposition to the surge (aka
escalation) to the United States war on Iraq is not enough! Passing
non-binding resolutions is not enough. That will not bring the troops
home. The argument that cutting off funding is not supporting the troops
is bogus. That money was already allocated to support the troops who are
there. If congress really wants to support the troops, they will ACT to
get them out of harm's way and bring them home now! If U.S. troops are not
removed, more of them will be killed or maimed (already 3,000 dead and
21,000 physically wounded, plus many psychological issues which will need
to be dealt with); more Iraqis will be killed and maimed (An estimated
655,000+ dead, countless wounded and suffering in a country with no
security and with an infrastructure that has been destroyed).

Of course, there are many other complex issues around the dead and wounded
U.S. military and Iraqis, the destruction of Iraq and the terrible moral
and financial cost to the United States and international law;
restitution, reconciliation, war profiteering of U.S. and multi-national
companies, oversight, investigations, regional instability, the need for
diplomacy, the list goes on. It is reasonable to have funding with tight
controls for use in removing U.S. troops and giving restitution to Iraqis,
for fair and honest diplomacy, etc., but not for funding more troops,
permanent bases and etc. (Also, while we have our eyes on Iraq, Somalia
has been attacked by the U.S. Innocent civilians including children killed
in a massacre of suspected terrorists, and the U.S. has been moving ships
within striking distance of Iran. Tell Congress to stop military actions,
attacking, threatening and inflaming the Middle East region and

Phone the Senate and Congress at their offices in Washington, D.C. or
locally. Or e-mail them. (Do not send letters by mail to Washington,
D.C. They are checked for Anthrax and it takes months for them to get
to their destination. If you know someone who wants to write, suggest
they write to their congress person's local office; they will get the
mail to them.)

--------2 of 15--------

From: Krisrose02 [at]
Subject: Kristen Olson 1.12 6pm

 sing & play
 mostly original story-songs

As we live we weave our stories, our melodies, our lives, our music.

Kristen Olson and Kerri Marshall have written and played music together
for over ten years.  Please join us Friday, January 12, at the Smooth
Grind in Roseville, from 6 to 8 pm.

Guest musicians will include Shelby Marshall, Grant Marshall, and Rose
Kubiatowicz on mandolin.

Most of our songs are original, though you may hear some Tracy Chapman,
and Cowboy Junkies covers (and maybe some old John Denver!)  Our songs
have been written as stories, snapshots, illustrations of our lives and
our growth in relationships, in the world, as we are and have been.  We
hope to see everyone there as we celebrate the new year.  There is sure to
be some story telling, and some political banter thrown in for good

The Smooth Grind is located at 2723 Lexington Ave N, one block north of
Roseville City hall on Lexington.  Or, call (651) 490-0490 for directions.
The Smooth Grind is a locally owned coffee shop, under new ownership.  It
is welcoming, cozy, and is definitely the place to find the best coffee
and dessert around!

See you there! Kristen & Kerri

--------3 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Iwo Jima/film  1.12

1/12 to 1/18, film "Letters from Iwo Jima' is companion to "Flags of Our
Fathers," told from the Japanese perspective, Uptown Cinema, Hennepin &
Lagoon, Uptown Mpls.  612-825-6006.

--------4 of 15--------

From: barbara Vaile <barbara [at]>
Subject: Alt/violence 1.12

Alternatives to Violence Project Workshop

Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops consists of games,
discussions, and role plays which build conflict management skills and
explores non-violence as a way of life. AVP workshops have provided training
"which has been used to reduce violence in Twin Cities' homes and Minnesota
prisons, as well as Rwanda, Bosnia, Kenya and the US." AVP-MN sponsors
workshops in prisons, high schools, and the community.

Please join us at a 22 hour Basic Level workshop, sponsored by the Friends
for a Non-Violent World (FNVW) in St. Paul, January 12-14, 2007 and at
Walker Church in Minneapolis, February 16-18. Minnesota AVP is sponsored by
FNVW. Sliding scale fee - scholarships are available.

To register call 651-644-5851 seven to ten days in advance or e-mail Aaron
at aaron [at] <mailto:aaron [at]>. For more information, 
check out our websites: <> and <>.

--------5 of 15--------

From: Diane J. Peterson <birch7 [at]>
From: Lisa Ledwidge
Subject: Warming/MN water 1.13 10am

Minnesota Metro Branch of the
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
invites you to its January 2007 COFFEE WITH Program

The Effects of Global Warming on Minnesota's Water
Speaker: J Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director, Fresh Energy

The Earth's temperature is rising, and even Minnesota's precious water
resources are at risk.  How might global warming affect Minnesota fishing,
snow sports, agriculture, and drinking water?  Find out from climate
expert J Drake Hamilton, who also will suggest ways that individuals can
help solve the climate change problem.

Sat. January 13
10 am to noon
Van Cleve Community Center, 901 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis
Sponsored by MN Metro WILPF
FFI: 651-458-7090; wilpf [at];

--------6 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Colombia/US 1.13 10am

Saturday, 1/13, 10 to 11:30 am, human rights translator David Pegg speaks on
"US Complicity in Colombia's Violence," Resource Center of the Americas,
3019 Minnehaha Ave, Mpls.

--------7 of 15--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: EJAM/env justice 1.13 10:30am

Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota
4th Annual Founders' Day Conference
Environmental Justice: Bringing it home...
Local and Global Solutions

Saturday January 13, 2007
Registration 10:30 am
Program 11:00 am -6:30 pm

Minneapolis Urban League
2100 Plymouth Av. N, Mpls.

FREE Event but donations welcome

Rep. Keith Ellison, US House-elect
Tom Goldtooth, Director Indigenous Environmental Network

Event Include:
. Panel discussion of Environmental Justice active issues
. Workshops on healthy homes, climate change, asthma, and more
. Town Hall Forum - Open dialogue with the community
. Book signing - Dr. Rose Brewer, author of "The Color of Wealth"
. Dance, spoken word, art auction and awards
. Light lunch and dinner

Contact: Karen Monahan 612-436-5402

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>

NOTE: Serious Greens should be at this event. It's FREE, on a SATURDAY and
is organized by an environemntal group initiated by people of color (who
white progressives are always asking "How can we get people of color
involved with our group/issue/movement?" The answer is REACH OUT ON THEIR
TURF. The movement for "environemntal justice" INTEGRATES environmental
preservation and racial/economic/social justice and is critical to many
issues usually defined ONLY in terms of the environment - but, that
DISPROPORTIONATELY are being felt by people of color here & around the
world (water theft from Indigenous in Canada, lead posioning of the poor -
primarily cchildren of color, here, Indigenous in rainforests, etc). This
is a chance to learn and connect that shouldn t be missed. LH

From: Darrell Gerber <darrellgerber [at]>

Environmental Justice: Bringing it home...
Local and Global Solutions
Saturday January 13, 2007

10:30-11:00   Registration, Membership, Light Lunch
11:00-11:15   Welcome, EJAM Update, Awards
11:15-11:45   Keynote, Congressman Keith Ellison, inspire us to action
11:45-12:10   Aztec Dancers
12:10-1:40    Environmental Justice - Hot Issues (7-10 min each)

1. Healthy Food in the Inner City- Angela Dawson, Northside Food Project
2. Arsenic Triangle- community member
3. Pesticides- rep from Centro Campesino
4. Youth and the pursuit of a safe environment - Hattie Bonds & young person
5. Global Climate change - Shalini Gupta
6. IEN issues- Robert Shimek
7. The Color of Wealth, Dr. Rose Brewer - announce book signing

1:40-2:00     Break and Book Signing
              The Color of Wealth, Dr. Rose Brewer
2:00-3:30     Town Hall Forum  - Open dialogue with community members

3:30-4:30     Break Out Discussion/Information Groups
A. Tips and Tools for Making Your Home Healthy (pesticides, cleaning,
 - Collie Graddick, MN Dept of Agriculture
 - Julia Earl, Preventing Harm MN
B. The Color of Wealth, Dr. Rose Brewer
C. EJ and Global Climate Change, Shalini
D.  Open topics: break-outs in big room

4:40-5:00     Report back from small groups
              Continue book Signing
5:00-5:30     Dinner Buffet & Spoken Word Group
5:30-6:30     Keynote: In Defense of Mother Earth  
              Tom Goldtooth, Director Indigenous Environmental Network
6:30          Wrap Up

Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota

EJAM's Mission: EJAM advocates for fair treatment and meaningful
involvement of communities of color and low-income communities in the
development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws,
regulation, and policies for the purpose of eliminating minority health

EJAM's Goals:
 To promote healthy communities by preventing environmental hazards, that
disproportionately affect low-income and communities of color.
 To create and enhance awareness of environmental hazards which contribute
to health disparities on the basis of race and income.
 To promote self-advocacy, and the capacity and ability of individuals and
communities to advocate on issues of environmental justice for themselves,
their families and neighbors.

Our founding:  EJAM evolved from a 2003 Minneapolis Urban League (MUL)
meeting focusing on health disparities in communities of color. This
meeting served as the foundation for a coalition of community members and
organizations coming together to focus on environmental justice and health
disparities. Issues that came up at the meeting were coal plant pollution,
need for neighborhood legal advocacy assistance, lead poisoning, and
health disparities. Since then, the MUL has hosted monthly EJAM meetings
to define mission, goals, and scope of the newly formed coalition, which
consists of: North Minneapolis community members, MUL, NAACP, Sierra Club
North Star Chapter, Metropolitan Area African American Chamber of
Commerce, Institute for Agricultural & Trade Policy, Women's Cancer
Resource Center, Council on Black Minnesotans, Indigenous Women's
Network, African American Tobacco Network, Synergy Publishing, Alliance
for Metropolitan Stability, and members of area churches, public schools
and the medical community. In Fall 2004 EJAM established its first
15-person Board of Directors. 

EJAM accomplishments so far:
 EJAM secured the first-ever Public Utilities Commission (PUC) hearing on
energy in North Minneapolis in September 2003. With the highest turnout in
the state, 150 people participated and sent a clear message - it's time to
clean up the metro area coal plants. The PUC heard that message and in
December 2003 approved the Metro Emissions Reduction Project (MERP), a
voluntary plan to clean up three metro area coal plants.
 EJAM held its inaugural "Founder's Day" conference on October 11, 2003,
featuring renowned environmental justice expert, Dr. Robert Bullard. 
Subsequently, we hosted a second Founder's Day conference on January 22,
2005, featuring renowned scientist and environmental justice advocate, Dr.
Tyrone Hayes. Our third Founder's Day featured keynote presentations by
Jesus Torres, a youth organizer with Centro Campesino, an Owatonna-based
organization fighting for migrant farm worker rights; and Margie Richard,
an award-winning grassroots organizer from Norco, Louisiana, who battled
and won a just relocation agreement with Shell Chemical Co.
 In March 2003 several EJAM members traveled with the Sierra Club to the
Chicago E.P.A. hearing on the EPA's mercury MACT rule to raise the issue
of environmental justice for communities of color, low-income communities,
and Indigenous Peoples. EJAM members also testified at a local community
hearing at the Martin Luther King Center on the EPA's mercury plan.
 EJAM has hosted several accountability forums in North Minneapolis on
issues of importance to the community, including environmental health
concerns at a recent affordable housing development and the redesign of
Broadway Avenue North. These forums brought decision-makers, scientists,
and developers together with community members to address the concerns of
the community.
 EJAM has drafted an environmental justice policy for the state of
Minnesota, and has worked closely with EJAM leader Rep. Keith Ellison to
pass legislation in 2005 to reduce household lead hazards offering tax
incentives to pay for clean up. In addition, EJAM and Rep. Ellison are
fighting to reduce the blood lead level of concern from 15 to 10 ug/dl, so
that more children will receive appropriate intervention and treatment for
lead poisoning.
 In 2006 EJAM, as a member of Mercury-Free Minnesota, advocated for the
successful passage of landmark state legislation to reduce mercury
emissions from Minnesota's three largest coal plants by ninety percent by
 Also in 2006, EJAM worked with the Minneapolis City Council to pass a
comprehensive mercury reduction ordinance for the city.
 Arsenic Triangle - Continuing advocacy to help protect residents of
South Minneapolis affected by arsenic pollution from a closed pesticide

--------8 of 15--------

From: DRosenstein [at]
Subject: Janitors/SEIU 1.13 11am

Hi all, so you may have heard that the janitors at SEIU Local 26 will be
taking a strike vote this Saturday.

Members and staff at the local both report that everyone's trying to stay
strong in the face of employer intimidation and discrimination. But in
order to feel like they can really take their struggle forward, they need
to know that the community will stand with them. "If activists in town
have ever wondered how they can help to with the J4J campaign, now's the
time. We really need a lot of people to show up at the strike vote
meeting," members of the negotiating committee told me yesterday.

The idea is for us to show our solidarity at the beginning of their meeting
and then break off to discuss the specifics of what actions we might take
as a newly formed solidarity committee.

Please forward this email widely and I hope to see you there-- Deborah

The details: 11 AM, Saturday January 13th, 312 Central Ave.  Minneapolis
(labor building)

Deborah Rosenstein Program Coordinator, Labor Education Service Industrial
Relations Center 321-19th Avenue South, Room 3-300 Minneapolis, MN 55455
612-626-2034 (phone) 612-624-1585 (fax) drosenstein [at]

--------9 of 15--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NW N4P vigil 1.13 11am

The NW Neighbors for Peace weekly demonstrations every Saturday between
11am and noon along Vinewood, near Rockford Rd. (also known as 42nd Avenue
or Cty. Rd. 9) and just east of 494.  This is the entrance to Target,
Rainbow, and other stores.

--------10 of 15--------

From: Lennie <major18 [at]>
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.13 1pm

Mounds View peace vigil EVERY SATURDAY from 1-2pm at the at the southeast
corner of the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE in Blaine,
which is the northwest most corner of the Northtown Mall area. This is a
MUCH better location.

We'll have extra signs.  Communities situated near the Northtown Mall
include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden
Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids.

For further information, email major18 [at] or call Lennie at

--------11 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Islam  1.13 2pm

Alternate Saturdays, 1/13 to 6/9, 2 to 4 pm, interfaith dialogue
organization Northern Lights Society presents series Understanding Islam,
2469 University Ave, Suite 110 E. St Paul.  bilgin [at]

Series includes topics the Qur'an on 1/12, virtues of prayer on 1/27, Mary
on 2/10, Jesus on 2/24, Islam and Democracy on 3/10, necessity of
interfaith dialogue on 3/24, farewell sermon of prophet Muhammad on 4/14,
terror and suicide attacks on 4/28, other faiths according to Islam on
5/12, diversity in Islam on 5/26 and Islamic art on 9/9.  RSVP to
rsvp [at]

--------12 of 15--------

From: Mike Whelan <mpw4883 [at]>
Subject: Ceili 1.13 7pm

The Irish Music and Dance Association (IMDA) is hosting an Irish ceili
dance and celebration honoring the contributions of musician Martin McHugh
for his years of playing in the Twin Cities community. On January 13,
2007, Martin McHugh will be the guest of honor for the 2006/2007 IMDA
"Honoring our Elders" event.

Martin McHugh, native of Castlereagh, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, has been a
resident in St Paul since the 1960s.  With his accordion, he has shared
his love of Irish music and culture with countless musicians in the Twin
Cities area performing for events, dances and at sessions.  Martin's
repertoire forms the basis for many of the tunes played in the local
community. Please join us to say thank-you to Martin for all he has given
us. It will be a special night featuring dancing (called by Mike Whelan)
and music -- with surprise guest artists from near and far.  You'll also
get to meet the winners of the 2006 IMDA Educational Grant Program who
will perform that evening.  A full cash-bar is on the premises.  Bring
your favorite desert to share and help us make this a very special evening
for a very special friend.  The event details are:

Irish Music and Dance Association Ceili and Celebration
Honoring our Elders: Martin McHugh
Saturday, January 13, 2007 Eagles Club, Minneapolis
2507 25th Street East Minneapolis, MN 55406
Doors open 7pm,  $5 donation requested at the door

--------13 of 15--------

Insanity Surge
By Cindy Sheehan
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor
Thursday 11 January 2007

Surge: A strong, wavelike, forward movement, rush, or sweep.
Escalate: To increase, enlarge, or intensify.

Bloody George, the lamest duck in US history, has announced to the nation
that he will be sending 21,500 more troops into Iraq, which some call a
"surge," some call an escalation, and I like to refer to as Operation
Increasing Cannon Fodder.

The Hypocrite in Chief has said over and over again, throughout nearly
four years of his malevolent and dysfunctional occupation, that he would
increase troop levels when the "generals on the ground" asked him to. I
guess he never said what he would do if his generals on the ground asked
him not to send new troops, but apparently one will get canned, as
Generals Casey and Abizaid recently found out.

We humans for peace and sanity need to descend on our Congressional
offices to avert this calamity in the making. This past week, Speaker
Pelosi threatened Bloody George with withholding funds for this newest
venture into the abyss and WE need to make sure that she follows through
with that threat. Bloody George's funds need to be cut off. He can't
perpetrate any more murder or perpetuate any more hatred if the cash cow
runs dry.

I am tired of the warmakers making war with our children. I am tired of
our tired troops being sent over to do the dirty work for mob bosses who
are going to squeeze the life out of Iraq and not leave until every asset
and every natural resource has been raped from the country. I am tired of
seeing Iraqis burying their loved ones and hearing the reverberating
screams of mothers all over our country who are being destroyed for the
benefit of a very few.

It seems that as Bloody George's time winds down, his incompetence surges,
and it appears that impeachment is more urgent.

An escalation is not acceptable. Sitting idly by and watching it happen is
not acceptable either.

In Search of Peace is a series of reflections on Cindy's journey toward
true and lasting peace.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in
Bush's war of terror on 04/04/04. She is the co-founder and president of
Gold Star Families for Peace and the Camp Casey Peace Institute. She is
the author of three books; the most recent is Peace Mom: A Mother's
Journey Through Heartache to Activism.

--------14 of 15--------

From: Kip Sullivan <kiprs [at]>
Subject: Scam! Your tax dollars and the HMOs

Below is another article of mine. It's in the current Pulse. It describes
the sleazy process by which our state health insurance programs for
low-income Minnesotans were privatized, and it lays out the evidence
indicating privatization has raised, not lowered, the costs of those

The Pulse, January 10-16, 2007

For two decades, Minnesota taxpayers have been losing hundreds of millions
of dollars annually by letting HMOs participate in the state's three major
health insurance programs - MinnesotaCare, Medical Assistance (MA,
Minnesota's Medicaid program), and General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC).
These losses have never been investigated by the Legislature.

HMOs in Minnesota act as the middleman between the state's Department of
Human Services (DHS) and the doctors, hospitals and other providers who
treat low-income Minnesotans who qualify for MinnesotaCare, MA and GAMC.
When this privatization "experiment" began in the mid-'80s under Reagan,
the state of Minnesota promised the feds it would evaluate the experiment.
That evaluation never happened, or if it did, has never been released.

The HMOs have gotten what they wanted - privatization with access to the
public trough without so much as a single public evaluation of whether
privatization saved money.

The HMOs have warded off accountability long enough.

"The Legislature is now under great pressure to expand MinnesotaCare and
MA to include more of the uninsured," said Lisa Nilles, MD, vice chair of
the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition. "That's wonderful news. But
the Legislature must fix the HMO overpayment problem before it expands the
coverage of those programs. If they don't, the overpayments will get a lot

The way these HMO overpayments were created resembles the way the Pentagon
overpaid Halliburton. Halliburton is a gigantic corporation with
considerable influence in Washington, D.C.; it used that political
influence to win lucrative contracts with the Pentagon for services to
soldiers in Iraq (like meal preparation and transportation of gasoline)
that used to be provided by military personnel at lower cost to the
taxpayer. Now that evidence of the Halliburton rip-off has emerged,
Halliburton is resisting audits of its books and the Pentagon is doing
little to recover the overpayments.

Similarly, HealthPartners, Medica and other Minnesota HMOs used their
political power to get DHS to outsource the job of insuring low-income
Minnesotans to the HMOs. Once this outsourcing, or privatization, had
occurred, the HMOs used their political power to keep DHS and the
Legislature from evaluating whether privatization saved money.

         Administrative costs: The rhinoceros in the room

To figure out whether privatization raises or lowers the costs of
MinnesotaCare, MA and GAMC, you need to calculate two numbers: The amount
of money HMOs spend on overhead costs (non-medical costs like
advertisements and salaries for lobbyists), and the amount they spend on
medical care for patients. Those two numbers together equal total spending
by HMOs.

According to research, including a 2003 report by the federal Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services, HMO overhead is about 20 percent of their
revenues. According to other research, HMOs reduce spending on patients by
about 5 percent. The net effect is about a 15 percent increase in total

But all the HMOs talk about is the 5 percent cut in spending on patients,
allegedly achieved by making patients healthier through greater use of
preventive services like mammograms, and by cutting out unnecessary
services. Everyone who promoted privatization in the '80s understood HMOs
were going to spend a large portion of the tax dollars funneled to them on
administrative costs including sales people, marketing, arguing with
doctors about whether their patients needed this or that medical service
or drug, lobbying, perks and huge salaries for executives. But no one
wanted to talk about it. All the HMO lobbyists talked about was the big
savings that would allegedly materialize in the form of reduced medical
spending if Minnesota's poor were pushed into HMOs.

When forced to talk about their overhead costs, the HMOs have claimed
their overhead costs are merely 10 percent of revenues. Even if that's an
accurate number, the HMOs still lose the larger argument about whether
they should be booted from state health insurance programs. But 10 percent
is not accurate. For example, Hatch's audit of Medica, the state's second
largest health insurance company in terms of market share, reported that
its overhead was at least 19 percent in 2000.

The Nov. 15, 2006 Wall Street Journal put it this way in a front-page
story: "At Medicaid HMOs, only 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars
generally go for medical care. The rest covers other costs - including
executive compensation, entertainment and political contributions".

The original rationale for inserting HMOs between DHS and providers was to
save money.  (That rationale was articulated in Minnesota's April 1982
application to the federal government for permission to force MA
recipients in two "experimental" counties - Hennepin and Dakota - into
HMOs for a three-year "demonstration" period, 1985 to 1988.)  If HMO
overhead eats up even as little as 10 percent, never mind 20 percent, of
the tax dollars they receive from DHS, how were the HMOs supposed to break
even during the 1985-88 "demonstration" period, much less save the state

Minnesota's 1982 application to the feds didn't bother to address this
question. There were only three possible answers: The HMOs would reduce
spending on medical care by an amount at least equal to their overhead;
DHS would pay the HMOs more than it would have if HMOs had never been
inserted between DHS and providers; or some combination of the above.

There are two ways HMOs could have cut medical spending: They could have
cut the fees they paid to providers below the levels DHS was paying prior
to privatization, or they could have cut the volume of medical services
provided to patients. Because the fees DHS was paying to providers were
already less than half those the private sector plans paid to their
providers, it is extremely unlikely the HMOs were able to save money with
even lower fees. In any case, there is no evidence that that happened.
That leaves medical utilization rates. There is some evidence that HMOs
reduced medical services delivered to MA recipients, including many
necessary medical services.

But the reduction in medical use rates was nowhere near enough to offset
the HMOs' 20 percent overhead. Research by the Congressional Budget
Office (the agency in charge of estimating the cost of bills proposed by
members of Congress) indicates the typical HMO cut medical utilization by
about 5 percent below the rate seen in patients treated by unmanaged
providers. But 5 percent, obviously, is a lot less than the 20 percent
overhead generated by the typical HMO. That leaves one explanation: DHS
has been overpaying HMOs all these years by roughly 15 percent.

           Dancin' the night away: Your tax dollars at work

The best-known type of HMO overhead or administrative cost is executive
salaries and perks. Mike Hatch's 2002 audit of Medica, which at the time
was part of a combined HMO-hospital-chain called Allina, painted a lurid
picture of this type of overhead. Although Allina operated only in
Minnesota and small slices of the Dakotas and Wisconsin, it reimbursed its
executives for flights to Aruba, London, Paris, Venice, Grand Cayman,
Amsterdam, Athens, Cancun, Los Cabos, Pago Pago, Puerto Vallarta, and San
Juan during the period 1998-2000. During those same three years, Allina
paid for over 30 trips to Hawaii, and more than 1,000 trips to California
and Florida. The purpose of one of the California trips (eight Allina
officials made the trip) was to attend an "ethics" seminar in Monterey
designed to teach the executives how to find Allina's "moral center."

Other examples of wasteful expenditures by Allina documented in Hatch's
massive, six-volume report included:

- a hot air balloon ride for executives over vineyards in California's
Napa Valley ($1,295, champagne brunch included);

- a $70,000 company party, $10,000 of which was for a "laser light

- $18,000 worth of season tickets to the Minnesota Timberwolves for just
one executive over three years;

- $1 million a year for a "turn around" specialist from California who
worked at Allina only four days a week and who in turn hired more
California consultants to host parties for executives at which they
watched the movie "Twelve Angry Men" in order to learn about "group

But the lavish salaries and questionable perks for HMO managers
constitute only a small portion of the 20 percent of revenues that HMOs
spend on overhead. The bulk of HMO overhead is accounted for by:

 -marketing and advertising;
 -"managing care," or, in plain English, telling doctors what services
and drugs they can offer to their patients;
 -claims processing;
 -lobbying and otherwise influencing government (such as the $306,000
over three months Allina gave to GCI Tunheim and other public relations
firms to carry out a publicity campaign in 2001 to destroy Hatch's
credibility); and
 -profit (in the case of for-profit plans) or surplus (in the case of
nonprofits). Profit or surplus typically amounts to 3 to 5 percent.

In case it isn't obvious, let me state the obvious: DHS spent no money on
trips to Pago Pago, Timberwolves tickets and the other administrative
costs HMOs incur before privatization. But after privatization, that is,
after DHS started funneling tax dollars through HMOs rather than directly
to providers, our tax dollars did finance trips to Pago Pago and
expenditures on marketing, lobbying, etc.

                      HMOs gag the messenger

The first sign that something was very wrong with Minnesota's
privatization experiment came in 1987 when the federal government refused
to grant DHS's request to extend the Hennepin-Dakota demonstration project
for two years beyond 1988. Judging from a vague explanation of this event
in a history of the privatization project published by DHS in 1995, the
feds refused to extend the demonstration project because DHS had not
carried out the evaluation it had promised to conduct. Here is the sum
total of DHS's explanation from its 1995 report: "Difficulty in obtaining
usable service encounter data from the health plans made it difficult to
evaluate the [demonstration]. In addition, delays in enrollment of
recipients resulted in considerably less than three years of actual
program experience."

Arranging for the HMOs to deliver necessary data to DHS and getting poor
people to sign up for HMOs were the two most obvious tasks DHS had to
think through before it asked the feds for permission to begin the
privatization experiment. Why weren't these obvious problems anticipated
by DHS? Why was the privatization "experiment" allowed to continue without
some assurance from DHS that these problems, especially the HMO's
inability or unwillingness to deliver useful data, had been addressed?

In an ideal world where state agencies do what they say they will do and
where large corporations are held accountable, this should have been the
end of the road for the privatization experiment. It was not. In 1989,
according to the DHS history, Minnesota's legislature rewarded the HMOs by
enacting legislation authorizing DHS to privatize all 87 Minnesota
counties. In 1990 Congress, apparently at the request of one or several
members of the Minnesota congressional delegation, voted to give Minnesota
permission to continue its privatization experiment.

DHS made no further attempt to determine whether privatization was working
until 1993. In that year, a DHS employee named Steven Foldes sought to
compare the quality and cost of care for MA recipients in Dakota and
Hennepin counties with the quality and cost of care provided to MA
recipients by doctors in five other metro counties that had not yet been
privatized. Again the HMOs refused to deliver to DHS the necessary data.
(The HMOs refused to provide any data at all on mental health services.)
In his final report, Foldes noted the HMOs' failure to deliver usable data
and called for more research.

However, Foldes was able to draw firm conclusions about two preventive
services - mammography and Pap smears. He found that doctors in the
unprivatized counties (referred to as "fee-for-service" counties because
doctors there were paid a fee by DHS for each medical service they
provided to patients) were doing a better job of providing preventive
services than the HMO doctors in Dakota and Hennepin. "[T]he health plans
[referring to the HMOs] had a comparatively 5 percent higher rate of Pap
smear use, but the fee-for-service setting had a comparatively 35 percent
higher rate of mammogram use" said the report. Because HMOs claimed they
were much better than fee-for-service doctors at delivering preventive
services, these findings were profoundly embarrassing to the HMOs. It
suggested that if HMOs were saving any money at all for DHS, it was not
because they were doing a superior job of "health maintenance."

The HMOs persuaded then-DHS assistant commissioner Helen Yates to conceal
the study from the public. We know this because someone leaked word of the
study to the Star Tribune, which published a front-page article about it
on March 13, 1994. Under the headline, "Study shelved after HMOs
complained," the article opened with these sentences: "Minnesota officials
suppressed a study raising questions about HMO care for poor people ....
The study was the first attempt by the Minnesota Department of Human
Services to see whether the state was saving money by sending Medical
Assistance patients to health-maintenance organizations."

Neither the Legislature, then in the hands of Democrats, nor then-governor
Arne Carlson called for hearings into the HMOs' outrageous conduct, nor
did they demand that DHS take appropriate steps to force the HMOs to
cooperate. DHS, which had abolished Foldes' position when it shelved his
study, did not initiate a follow-up study.

"The Star Tribune report was front-page news," said Charlotte Fisher, a
retired St. Cloud nurse and president of the Greater Minnesota Health Care
Coalition. "But the Legislature didn't lift a finger to find out what
happened. No calls for HMO accountability. No hearings. Nothing!"

This would not be the last time the Legislature ignored reports that
indicted HMOS: The Legislature ignored then-Attorney General Mike Hatch's
2001 report on the abuse of mental health patients by Blue Cross and
Hatch's 2002 audit of Allina.

With the deep-sixing of Foldes' report, the question of whether HMOs were
robbing taxpayers sank from sight. As I reported in the Dec. 5 Pulse,
former DHS commissioner Kevin Goodno stated in a December 2004 letter to
former Rep. Matt Entenza (DFL-St. Paul) that even at that late date DHS
still had not performed a study to determine if privatization saved money.

Although the HMOs have suppressed research on whether privatization of the
state programs saved money or improved quality of care, we have dozens of
studies of HMO performance in the private sector, in Medicare, and in
California's Medicaid program which indicate HMOs raise costs and damage
quality of care.

                  HMO-ectomy: Big business shows the way

Perhaps the most compelling of these studies are those showing that when
businesses "self-insure" they save money. Self-insuring means a business
stops buying insurance from a health insurance company and instead acts as
the health insurer of its own employees. It just sets aside money each
year in a bank account to cover the estimated cost of its employees'
medical bills and, when bills come in, it pays providers directly. In
other words, self-insured businesses bypass the HMO middleman. Today,
about 40 percent of all Minnesotans with health insurance get it through a
self-insured employer. The high number of companies that choose to
self-insure is a sure sign that self-insuring is a money-saver.

Self-insuring cuts health insurance costs because the self-insuring
company no longer pays for some or all of the administrative costs
associated with running an insurance company. Take, for example, a
self-insured company - call it Company X - formerly insured by Blue Cross
Blue Shield. Company X still has to pay someone to process claims and
negotiate contracts with providers (it might do this in house or contract
with Blue Cross or another insurance company to do this), but it no longer
pays for trips to Pago Pago (or wherever Blue Cross sends its execs for R
and R) nor all the other overhead costs private insurers incur. By ceasing
to pay for these costs, self-insuring corporations cut their health
insurance costs by 10 to 20 percent.

Two dozen Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Minnesota documented the
value of self-insuring a decade ago. The group, known as the Business
Health Care Action Group (BHCAG; today it is the Buyers Health Care Action
Group), included, for example, Carlson Companies, General Mills, Land O'
Lakes, Pillsbury, Super Value and 3M. The BHCAG corporations self-insured
in 1993. In 1997, the group reported that self-insuring cut its health
insurance costs by 11 percent. According to a January 13, 1997 report in
Business Week, "a coalition of 25 Minnesota companies appears to be
scoring savings ...  by bypassing insurers. The Business Health Care
Action Group deals directly with doctors and hospitals. Steve Wetzell,
executive director of BHCAG, contends that HMOs ... waste millions on
administration. By cutting them out, the coalition has reduced employers'
health-coverage expenses 11 percent since 1993." The article ran under the
amusing title, "Minnesota's HMO-ectomy."

The Minnesota Legislature is often urged to make government act more like
a business. This is one case where that advice should be followed. "If
bypassing the insurance companies makes sense for big business, why can't
our legislature see that it makes sense for MinnesotaCare and Medical
Assistance?" asks Charlotte Fisher.

If sticking HMOs between large corporations and providers raises costs, it
seems obvious that sticking HMOs between Medicaid and providers will also
raise costs. That is what a study of California's partially privatized
Medicaid program found. The study reported that counties where HMOs have
been inserted between the state and providers have per capita costs 20
percent above those of counties that were never privatized (You can find
this study at This study was
conducted for the National Bureau of Economic Research, a right-of-center
think tank that has produced 16 of America's 31 Nobel Prize winners in
economics since its founding in 1920.

Just last Nov. 15, the Wall Street Journal reported that "private HMOs'
are making billions off of the Medicaid programs of Illinois and other
states while spending lavishly on executive salaries, executive jets and
inventive forms of advertising such as buying the right to put the HMO's
name on art museums and baseball stadiums.

                             It gets worse

The cost of privatization is a lot higher than just the 15 percent
overpayment to HMOs. Privatization also drove up provider administrative
costs, and probably drove up DHS's overhead costs.

The Nov. 15 Wall Street Journal article quoted above on HMO overhead also
reported that state agencies that run unprivatized Medicaid programs
typically have much lower overheads than HMOs. "When states run their own
Medicaid programs," the article reported, "they spend an average of 4 to
6 percent on administrative costs.  The rest - 94 to 96 percent - goes to
paying for medical care." That 4-to-6 percent overhead is attributable
mainly to claims processing and means testing (determining whether people
who apply for Medicaid are poor enough to qualify). What the Journal did
not say is that there is some evidence indicating that when states
privatize their Medicaid programs state overhead costs double because
overseeing HMOs is so much more expensive than simply processing claims
and measuring the incomes of applicants.

In other words, not only does privatization force the taxpayer to pay a 15
percent overhead fee to HMOs, it also requires taxpayers to finance
another 5 percent in state agency overhead, or a total of about 20 percent
in new non-medical costs.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal did not take note of evidence that the
overhead costs of clinics and hospitals rise when Medicaid programs are
privatized. Providers who have to deal with HMO middlemen must spend a lot
more on getting their bills paid than they did prior to privatization.
Doctors and hospitals all over America can attest to this. All the large
insurers have been sued by providers for losing claim forms, altering
claim forms to lower the reimbursement level, and otherwise delaying

Good research on the impact HMOs have had on provider overhead is sparse.
But if the increase is only 5 percent of provider expenditures, that
brings the total cost of privatization of state health insurance programs
to 25 percent - 15 percent overpayments to HMOs, a five percent increase
in state overhead costs, and another five percent increase in provider
overhead costs. Of course, that last chunk of waste - the additional
overhead costs providers incur - does not show up on the taxpayer's bill.

                          Be wise, deprivatize

Cutting the cost of MinnesotaCare, MA and GAMC by 20 percent is not the
only benefit that would flow from "deprivatizatizing" those programs.
Quality of care would also improve. Scientific research and an ocean of
HMO horror stories indicate that the cost-containment tools pioneered by
HMOs' "managed care" is the term applied today to these tools - have
damaged quality of care, especially for the weakest and sickest patients.
In short, privatization brought us the worst of all possible worlds - much
higher costs and diminished quality.

The HMOs have warded off accountability for two decades. Two decades is
long enough. The Legislature should boot the HMOs from the state programs
now  - and then go on to merge the three programs into one and use this
consolidated program as the centerpiece for a single-payer system that
covers all Minnesotans. ||

Kip Sullivan is the health system analyst for the Minnesota Universal
Health Care Coalition, which represents 13 organizations. He is the author
of more than 100 articles about health policy, and of a new book entitled
The Health Care Mess, available at Arise Bookstore, Amazon Books, Mayday
Books, Magers and Quinn, and Orr Books in Minneapolis, Mikawbers' and
Amore Coffee in St. Paul, and at and

--------15 of 15--------

Gilman/Sullivan - Lourey, health insurance, Leg session

[Becky Lourey promised in late 2005 to be the main sponsor of a
deprivatization bill for better health insurance (as explained by Kip
above). On that basis other legislators signed on, because they knew it
would be heard. Then toward the beginning of this last (2006) session, she
was unavailable to bill supporters. Then she dropped her support; followed
by those depending on her; the bill was dead.

This is not a profile in courage. Some think this issue is the most
important one in the state, but apparently the people can't get a word in
edgewise when the HMOs and insurance companies are talking. Just like
almost everywhere else.

There follow two reports, from Rhoda Gilman, and Kip Sullivan; Kip gives
background for what is assumed in Rhoda's report: -ed]

From: "Rhoda Gilman" <rhodagilman [at]>
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2006 9:33 PM
Subject: Report from the Capitol -- the last 3 weeks

This will just wrap up what's been going on at the Capitol since March 3,
when I reported that Becky Lourey had told me she would introduce our
deprivatization bill and promised that we would get a hearing on it.

In the Senate, the week of March 4-10 was mainly consumed with confusion
about getting the jacket copy of our bill, which had been introduced in
the House by Neva Walker, to Sen. Lourey's office.  It seemed puzzling
that communication was so difficult between the State Office Building and
the Capitol.

Early on the morning of Friday, Mar. 10, our House bill was heard before
the Health Policy and Finance Committee, chaired by Fran Bradley. Kip has
reported fully on that hearing, including Rep. Tom Huntley's unexpected
attack, and the fact that Neva was forced into withdrawing the bill.

At the end of the hearing I went to Becky Lourey's office.  The jacket
copy of the bill had at last made it across the street, but to my surprise
and disappointment her assistant, Will Wilson, said that before Becky
signed it, I would need to meet with her again. I urged speed, since I
already had appointments with several prospective co-authors.  The best he
could do was 8:00 am on Tues. That was just after the first big snowstorm,
and Becky, who had gone home to Kerrick the previous night, was delayed.
What I did learn from Will that morning was that Sen. Leo Foley had signed
the bill as principal author instead of Becky.

The next day Sen. Solon signed as a co-author and it became clear that
Sen. Moua had reconsidered and would not sign. I also learned that Sen.
Solon has temporarily replaced Sen. Moua on the Health and Family Security
Committee. (She is already on Sen. Berglin's Health and Human Services
Budget Division Committee.) Quite by chance that afternoon, I met Becky
Lourey in the hall outside a hearing room, and we had a friendly but frank
talk. I told her of our disappointment that she would not carry our bill,
and I asked if she intended to sign as a co-author.  She said no.  She had
been convinced by advisors that it was not compatible with her announced
health care program as a candidate for governor. I replied that I felt it
was instead a step toward implementing that program, which calls for
administrative costs of no more than five percent. She hesitated and said
she would think it over and might change her mind. Again she assured me
that in any case, the bill would have a hearing.

On Thursday I found Senators Sandy Pappas and Ellen Anderson still firm in
their support and willing to sign as co-authors.  Neither of them,
however, is on a health committee.

On Friday morning, Mar. 17, I gave the bill back to Will Wilson, asking
him to show it to Becky and give her a final chance to sign it if she had
changed her mind.  He could then "drop it in" for numbering and committee

Members of the MUHCC steering committee spent the early part of this week
discussing strategy and making plans for testimony at the hearing, which
we learned was likely to be on Mar. 28.  We felt sure that the bill could
not pass the committee and that any hope for it rested with possible
action on the floor of either House or Senate.  Then on Wednesday Don
Pylkkanen met with Sen. Foley and learned that Leo does not even want to
have a hearing on it -- with or without a vote. Therefore, since the
principal author will not push the bill, we feel that for this session it
is essentially dead.

From: "Kip Sullivan" <kiprs [at]>
Sent: Friday, March 24, 2006 6:27 AM
Subject: Re: Report from the Capitol -- the last 3 weeks

I'll add a little more history to Rhoda's chronology of very recent events
regarding our direct purchasing (deprivatization) bill. The main point I
want to make is that Becky Lourey's last minute decision not to be the
chief author of our bill, or even a co-author, set off a chain of events
that quickly sank our bill. I'll start by recounting some history going
back to December 2004, and then add my interpretation of how Becky's
reneging on her promise to author our bill affected other senators.

A question that might have occurred to some of you is why we were
scrambling to find authors on our bill as late as March when we knew a
year ago this would be a very short session and we needed to have all our
authors lined up by the start of the session. The answer is: We were
waiting for a meeting with Becky to get her approval of the bill's
language. Becky kept finding reasons to put off that meeting, and didn't
have the gumption to call us and tell us she was not going to keep her
promise to support the bill. When senators do that to you -- they tell you
they'll support you and don't let you know they've changed their minds
till deep into a session -- you have serious problems, especially when the
senator in question chairs the key policy committee.

(For those of you who are new to the legislative process, a bill has a
chief author and several co-authors. Typically you line up your chief
author first, which means you get the chief author's approval of bill
language and you have some discussion about other topics, such as who
should co-author. Typically you seek a chief author and co-authors from
the policy committee with jurisdiction, in this case, the Senate health

Becky told us in December 2004 she would give us a hearing in the 2005
session on our proposal to remove the HMOs from MnCare, MA, and GAMC. She
didn't give us that hearing, and didn't have the courtesy to call us and
tell us that. Then, late in the 2005 session (that is, about a year ago)
she told Rhoda she would give us a hearing during the interim (that is,
between the last day of the 2005 session and the start of the 2006
session). We were slow to call her up and ask for execution of this
promise in part because it wasn't clear whether and when a special session
would be called in the fall of 2005 (long after the official close of the
2005 session), and in part because we trusted Becky to carry out her
promise. Becky didn't give us an interim hearing and didn't call us to
tell us there would be no interim hearing.

Last November or so our sister coalition, the Greater Minnesota Health
Care Coalition, set up a meeting with Becky in Duluth, a meeting that
several MUHCC people attended (I think they were Rhoda Gilman and Don
Pyllkanen). At that meeting, which occurred in December 2005 or January
2006 (can't recall now), Becky reaffirmed her willingness to author the
direct purchasing (deprivatization) bill and to give it a hearing. By then
we had approached Rep. Matt Entenza about this bill, and he had agreed to
get it drafted.

As soon as Matt got the bill drafted (which occurred in the last week of
December), I set about the laborious and ultimately impossible task of
getting a meeting with Becky to discuss the draft bill. If she was going
to be our chief author, MUHCC and GMHCC wanted her approval of the
wording. Strangely enough, getting that meeting turned out to be
impossible throughout the entire first quarter of this year. On the night
of January 4, when I joined a group of ten people at Becky's campaign
headquarters in St. Paul to discuss the health proposal Becky should
endorse as a gubernatorial candidate, Becky agreed to meet with me later
to discuss the direct purchasing bill. After several phone calls and
cancelled meetings stretching out over a period of six weeks, I gave up
and we turned the task over to Rhoda Gilman who had volunteered (again) to
spend some time acting as MUHCC's lobbyist at the capitol. By now it was
early March and the session had begun.

In January, I was told by a member of this list that Becky had personally
told her she opposed our bill (she implied opposition by answering this
person's question about our bill with another question, "But what about
HMO jobs?"). I emailed a copy of that person's email to Becky's staff, and
quickly received written assurance that it was not true and that Becky
"supported" the direct purchasing bill.

Because we had Becky's assurances she would author the bill and hear it,
we relayed that information to other senators who we approached about
being co-authors, including Senators Leo Foley (our single-payer chief
author)  and Mee Moua (both members of the health committee). I have no
doubt that our statement that Becky had agreed to author our bill had a
significant impact on Senators Foley and Moua, because, sad to say, we
also had to tell them that Senators Berglin and Kelley (both DFLers and
members of the Senate health committee) opposed our bill.

Thus, it was quite a shock to learn from Rhoda on March 15, 2006 that
Becky had told her (during an accidental meeting at the Capitol) that she
would not support the bill. Oddly, Becky told Rhoda she would still give
our bill a hearing.

That information set off a chain reaction. I'm 99% sure it was the factor
that caused Sen Moua to indicate she wanted to reconsider, and the factor
that caused Sen. Foley (our accidental, last-minute chief author)  to
decide not to ask for a hearing. Senators don't mind asking for hearings
on bills they know won't go anywhere if they know they have support from
their party. But when your party "leaders" don't support your bill, you
are understandably relunctant to ask busy colleagues to sit through a
hearing on a bill that isn't going to clear that committee.

Reporting this information is no fun. I personally like Becky a lot, and
have appreciated her past support for our single-payer bill (she has
authored it and held two hearings on it). I believe her inability to tell
us what she was really thinking about our direct purchasing bill was due
in part to her affection for all of us. But her attitude toward our direct
purchasing bill raises questions for me about whether she continues to
support single-payer. We proposed the direct purchasing bill precisely
because we thought it would be easier for legislators to support than the
full-blown single-payer bill and yet would raise the central issue
single-payer raises, namely, Is it possible for insurance companies to be
more efficient than government agencies?

You have to ask, If a senator can't support our direct purchasing bill,
will she do anything to irritate the HMO industry? I understand she is
proposing that as governor she will support legislation requiring HMOs to
get their overhead costs under 5% in order to participate in state
programs. I understand that that proposal will infuriate the HMO industry.
My question is, Will Becky follow through on that promise if she becomes
governor? At this point, I'm very unhappy to say, I don't know what the
answer to that question is.

The above email is not a statement that the steering committee has
approved. It's my opinion only.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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