Excerpts from recent Minnesota editorials

June 27, 2019 GMT

The Free Press of Mankato, June 26

Health care: Trump disclosure order a good start to transparency

A Trump administration executive order to require hospitals to disclose prices of procedures and tests is a good start to creating an environment of transparency with the consumer in command.

Consumer choice in medicine is a simple idea that should have been adopted years ago. With the cost of health care skyrocketing and affordability waning, it’s long past time consumers took control of their health care.

The executive order would require hospitals also let people know the cost of certain procedures, including how much insurance covers as well as copays and deductibles.


Insurance companies and hospitals oppose the disclosures, arguing the revelation of prices will actually cause some to raise their price and not negotiate deep discounts with insurance companies. That argument continues to defy logic. If providers raise prices, consumers can go elsewhere.

For too long the insurance, health care provider and benefit manager relationship has been secretive, hiding under the cloak of trade secrets.

But health care is moving from being a private good to a public service. As Baby Boomers age, more and more of them move to public programs like Medicare. It’s time the manager of that program, the government, and the people get the information needed to make prudent choices.

The executive order must go through rule-making, so it may not be implemented for months or even years. There is no doubt insurers and hospitals will lobby hard against it.

But taxpayers and health care consumers should demand it be implemented. Many solutions to rein in health care costs and provide affordable insurance failed. Maybe we should try to let the market fix this problem.

Transparency in pricing will be key.


Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 26

A painful image of drownings at the border, and an indelible reality

The crisis there has many costs, but the main one is human.

You may not want to even look at, let alone linger on, the photo that accompanies this editorial, but you must. It shows the bodies of a Salvadoran migrant and his toddler daughter who drowned this week while attempting to cross the Rio Grande near Brownsville, Texas.

The crisis at the southern border has not been an abstraction, exactly, but it has been indirect enough for some U.S. citizens — if they wish, with a cool remove — to see the migrants fleeing violence in Central America as intruders who wish to exploit our country’s goodwill.


But look again. These were real people, and this was their fate.

Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez had arrived with his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, and their daughter, Valeria, on Sunday in Matamoros, the Mexican city across the river from Brownsville, hoping to request asylum from U.S. authorities. Julia Le Duc, the Matamoros journalist who took this photo and others after the bodies were found on Monday, told The Guardian newspaper that when Martínez realized that it could be weeks before the asylum process began, he decided the family should swim across. (Ávalos, who had not yet entered the water, watched her husband and 23-month-old daughter swept away. Le Duc witnessed Ávalos’ account to the police.)

“I’ve been a police reporter for many years, and I’ve seen a lot of bodies — and a lot of drownings,” Le Duc told The Guardian. “The Río Bravo (Rio Grande) is a very strong river: you think it’s just shallow, but there are lots of currents and whirlpools. You get numb to it, but when you see something like this it re-sensitizes you. You could see that the father had put her inside his T-shirt so the current wouldn’t pull her away.”

These photos immediately recalled similar ones from 2015 showing the body of a 3-year-old Syrian boy being retrieved from the water off a Greek island. The horror of reality at that time galvanized attention on the refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean to escape the Islamic State, but “it remains to be seen,” The Guardian wrote, if this week’s tragedy “will have the same impact on America’s fierce immigration debate.”

It’s true — nothing about this is easy. But please, fellow Americans, persuade our leaders to make the cynical view wrong.


St. Cloud Times, June 21

Cowards will be our downfall

St. Cloud, we have a problem. And it’s costing us dearly in respect, dignity and treasure.

Our problem is not refugees.

It’s not even an image problem, although we most certainly have one of those. If you don’t think so, Google “St. Cloud” and click on the first New York Times article at the top.

Our real problem is that there are too many cowards in our midst.

Yes, we said it: Cowards.

Cowards who blanch at the idea of Somalis “just walking around” on a public trail.

Cowards who cost local businesses thousands of dollars by overreacting to a mismarked security vehicle out of fear of Sharia law — which isn’t coming for us. It just isn’t, and only cowards believe it is.

Cowards who festoon their pickup trucks with loud mufflers and confederate flags to strike fear in others as they attempt to cover their own inadequacies.

Cowards who are too afraid to shop, dine or relax in contrived “no-go zones” also used by people “not from Norway” who like to shop, dine and relax.

Cowards who let discourse run into the sewer because it wouldn’t be Minnesota Nice to ask a keyboard warrior or blowhard relative to support their wild claims with facts.

Cowards who say #notallSt.Cloudians then carry on meekly as if that absolves our community in the eyes of the world.

Or, say, the cowards who, behind the rhetoric and the “facts” they use to promote their hate, so transparently and deeply fear a future in which they might be a minority. And get treated just like one.

All of that gutless timidity by a vocal flock — and we do believe they are outnumbered by Central Minnesotans who can see someone who is “other” with enthusiastic curiosity or at worst benign disinterest — is what defines St. Cloud to the world now.

That’s going to cost us dearly if we don’t get a handle on it — rapidly.

Corporate America is not, by and large, interested in associating itself with hate of any kind. The cowardly among us keep perpetuating a local brand that makes it less likely we will be in the running for the next tech outpost or national call center.

Convention schedulers are also keenly aware that attendees will look for details about our city and find our darkest side. Already this newspaper has been reached out to by travelers who planned to come to St. Cloud and changed their plans after the latest “branding effort.”

The smartest young people — the ones we need to attract to our companies __ will be less likely to move here. Doubt it? Ask your kids if they’d Google a city before considering a job offer there.

Our own young people, many raised with classmates and teammates and friends in a rainbow of colors, will think harder than they should have to about where they want to make a life.

All of that will limit our tax base, depress our property values, curtail our career options, push down our median household incomes and make us poorer. And we will still have refugees and immigrants among us, just as we always have, since the days of Upper Town, Lower Town and Middle Town. As it should be.

Also: Let’s not gloss over the fact that the hate bred by our trembling class is simply wrong — like slavery and segregation were wrong, like internment camps for Japanese citizens were wrong, like “civilizing” the Native American population was wrong.

America is struggling with its original sin — racism — more openly now than it has in decades. St. Cloud just became a poster child for the wrong side. Again.

That is because of the un-American cowardice of the minority who hide their deep-seated insecurities behind the bravado of false patriotism — a milquetoast patriotism that venerates the flag and Lee Greenwood songs over the bedrock principle of America: All men are created equal.

Prove your courage. Speak up.