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Minnesotans will begin choosing ‘Obamacare’ health plans October 1

State officials say MNsure will help address health disparities
 

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

 

Minnesotans soon can find competitive health insurance plans through MNsure, the state’s new health insurance marketplace, say State officials, who claim the program will help all Minnesotans, especially those from historically disadvantaged communities. “Minnesota today has the lowest average insurance rates in the country” compared to other state exchanges, proclaimed State Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman last week during a Sept. 6 press conference at the State Capitol. His office has approved five companies — Blue Cross Blue Shield, Group Health, Medica of Wisconsin, PreferredOne and UCare — to offer 141 health plans, 78 of them for individuals and families and 63 for small businesses, through MNsure beginning October 1, when open enrollment begins. Under MNsure’s four levels of plans, the monthly premium rates range from $90.59 (bronze) to $120.91 (silver), $141.16 (gold), and $150.75 (platinum). Continue Reading →

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Black Minnesotans lobby at the State Capitol

 
Can the new ‘Black agenda’ move the community forward? 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

There was nothing new revealed last week during the Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) Lobby Day at the State Capitol presenting their Black agenda to this year’s Minnesota Legislature. Billed as “Black Minnesotans Helping Move Minnesota Forward,” around 50 people listened on March 19 at the Capitol Rotunda to over 20 scheduled speakers before many of them visited legislators’ offices. “The last two years there was a collective group that sat on this African American lobby day, and this place was filled,” noted Rev. Jerry McAfee, who added that the COBM “didn’t reach out to anybody else. If this is about Black Minnesotans, why are you leaving Black folk out?”

Although McAfee didn’t blame the council’s new executive director, Edward McDonald, for the seemingly solo effort in planning last week’s event, the longtime pastor nonetheless added, “Some of the people around him on the council knew about it, and they should’ve said, ‘We will be stronger if we put everybody in together.’”

McDonald was hired and assumed the COBM executive duties last October. “Whether we like them [organizations that represent Blacks] or don’t like them, every African American group should have been a part of this, and there should have been meetings prior to this so that there could [be] one agenda. Continue Reading →

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Racial Equity Report Card and legislative agenda announced

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP) called January 30 for a statewide racial equity agenda. It was introduced along with the organization’s seventh annual Racial Equity Report Card during a rally at the State Capitol. “This agenda is not controversial but rather a multiracial and multi-issue group of community leaders working for racial, cultural and economic justice,“ said Phyllis Hill of ISAIAH, one of the 50-plus organizations that support the OAP’s plan. “I think we can turn our state around,” she believes, if more attention is given to such important issues as health care, education, economic opportunities, housing and justice issues as they affect Blacks and other people of color. Such an agenda is important now more than ever, noted Minneapolis School Board Member Kim Ellison. Continue Reading →

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Second Chance advocates ‘make some noise’ on the Hill

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

When Sarah Walker first lobbied the Minnesota Legislature on behalf of former offenders, she didn’t see it going over very well. “The first time I organized this, I was concerned that this would be received very poorly,” recalls Walker, the COO of 180 Degrees, Inc. 

But as a result, over 50 organizations formed the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition and started Second Chance Day on the Hill. “Since then we have gotten more legislative leaders interested in this issue. I think we really fundamentally changed the dialogue about the issue at the Capitol. We passed three bills in 2009, and we’re hopeful again this year for another good year,” continued Walker. Continue Reading →

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