MN VOICES | Amy Rice, making art in the heart of Northeast Minneapolis

At Art-a-Whirl, one studio you can’t miss is the one belonging to Amy Rice. She’s a Minneapolis-based artist whose star is just beginning to rise on the national scene. Her work has been shown in a diverse array of settings at home and abroad, from Palmer’s Bar on the West Bank to the Carmichael Gallery in London. Critics have praised her style—which makes use of spray paint stenciling and pastel palettes to create a fragile world of women and children in natural settings—calling it a mix of “cute” and “quirk” and comparing her work to that of another artist she’s exhibited with—Banksy.

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Nickel and diming disabled Minnesotans: Saving pennies, risking lives

Cindy and Greg Johnson live on the second floor of a lovely, modest home in Woodbury. Their daughter Jenna lives in an apartment on the first floor. She is a bright-eyed, socially active 27-year-old who works at Target. She has cute pink Crocs and a little white dog named Angel. She also has cerebral palsy, and has relied on state aid to persons with disabilities to make it possible for her to maintain relative independence. Continue Reading

Dayton signs HMO accountability order…but is it too early to celebrate?

On March 23, Governor Mark Dayton announced a series of major reforms to Minnesota’s managed care program. The move is designed to increase accountability and cost-savings for one of the state’s biggest expenditures, without making cuts in services, by taking a long-overdue look inside the HMOs’ black box. According to the press release from the governor’s office, the reforms include: competitive bidding in managed care, a call for HMOs to follow the example of UCare and return “excess reserves and profits” to the state,an Executive order “requiring regular audits of the managed care plans, creating a comprehensive annual report on all administrative expenses and premium revenues, and making data on the plans and contracts open to full public disclosure via a newly created website,”a request for information to “kick-start the development of efficient and effective health care delivery by connecting patients directly with hospitals, clinics, and community health providers and holding providers accountable for quality of care.”While the Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition welcomed the reforms, HMO critic Dave Feinwachs said they did not go far enough. “Greater MN Healthcare Coalition is very pleased and gratified at Governor Dayton’s executive order and the changes it will bring to how health care plans are administered in the state,” said GMHCC’s staff director, Buddy Robinson. “We have been working for these changes for the past four years and we are now working closely with the new commissioners for accountability and fairness and an efficient use of taxpayer dollars.” Continue Reading

UCare gives back $30 million, but questions on HMO profits from public payments remain

UCare’s March 16 announcement that it will  give back $30 million to the State of Minnesota came amid mounting criticsm of state payments to HMOs. Why the payback?It’s “the right thing to do,” said UCare president Nancy Feldman. Governor Mark Dayton called on other HMOs to follow UCare’s lead. Critics of HMO contracts with the state said it was not enough.TakeAction Minnesota, a consistent critic of the current managed care contracts with the state of Minnesota, welcomed what it characterized as  “UCare’s willingness to begin to pay back excess health dollars to the state,” but warned:A one-time fix is not the same as a permanent fix to an ongoing problem. The four largest recipients of state dollars for low-income health care — Medica, Blue Cross Blue Shield, HealthPartners and UCare — have combined reserves of $1.25 billion dollars. Who is David Feinwachs?David Feinwachs worked for the Minnesota Hospital Association for 30 years, serving as general counsel. Continue Reading

MUSIC | DJ Jake Rudh on ten years of Transmission: “I will definitely give the fans what they want”

Local fans of post-punk, Britpop, and New Wave should be well acquainted by now with the name Jake Rudh—or at least with his weekly event Transmission, currently hosted on Wednesdays at Clubhouse Jäger, a Teutonic yet cosmopolitan club in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis. There, Rudh spins an eclectic and always interesting mix of quality music, featuring theme nights once a month.

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Libya solidarity rally at the Minnesota State Capitol

At three o’clock last Friday, about 50 protesters of Middle Eastern descent, ranging in age from twenty-somethings to people in their sixties, many of them from Libya, gathered in the 12 degree weather outside the Minnesota State Capitol to demand that the United States take “immediate, enforceable action” against the state repression and mass murder of pro-democracy activists in Libya. “Free Free Libya!” they chanted in the cold sunshine, holding handmade signs. The mood was angry but hopeful as they chanted and sang in English and Arabic. “We want to prevent the genocide of the Libyan people!” Continue Reading