I read the reprinted New York Times article "Allina cuts care for patients who owe" Friday morning with dismay. Yes, Allina needs to get paid what it is owed, but I think it has forgotten it is a nonprofit and what that means for the communities where it's located. First, no child should ever be turned away from the medical care they need. The ironic thing about Allina's policy is that by turning away patients who need care (many of them with chronic conditions) they will eventually end up in one of Allina's hospitals needing emergency care as a result of delayed treatment. Does this really make sense? The person could end up in even more debt to Allina.
Perhaps, being a nonprofit, Allina should meet with patients who owe past-due debt and help them with getting insurance or referrals to organizations who can help the patient with their debt. Also, again as a nonprofit, perhaps Allina could seek contributions from citizens to help individuals with past-due debt. These donations could be in a separate fund and actually help Allina as well as people who are behind and need health care. I would donate to such a fund — not to help Allina but to help people who cannot afford health care.
For a nonprofit, Allina sure is cold and harsh. Allina, please look to other solutions and sources to solve this problem. Denying health care goes against what you should be doing in our communities.
Deb Novak, Brooklyn Park
It is embarrassing that Allina, one of Minnesota's large health care providers, has been refusing care to people who are in debt to Allina. People do not choose to be sick. When someone is sick and in debt as a result of health care expenses, it is not OK to make their lives worse by denying them health care. This is damning evidence of serious problems in some of our "nonprofit" corporations. This sort of thing does not happen in other prosperous countries, which all provide universal access to health care.
Why is a nonprofit healthcare corporation even allowed to do this?
There are many irresponsible parties in this situation. Allina's president earned over $3 million in 2021, according to the Times. Is the CEO trying to boost revenue so CEO compensation can be increased? Why is it reasonable for a nonprofit CEO to earn 40 or 50 times as much as the lowest-paid employee? (I do not know the compensation of Allina's lowest paid employee, so I am giving a range.)
Allina has a board of directors. Are the board members incompetent and ignoring Allina's duty to our community? Allina clearly needs to clean house and get a new board.
What about the Legislature and the attorney general? Are Minnesota nonprofit laws written so loosely that nonprofits are allowed to act like typical for-profit corporations? This Allina corruption is a challenge for our lawmakers. They need to thoughtfully review nonprofit rules and be sure Minnesota nonprofits are serving the community. In many cases nonprofits are serving a privileged elite rather than the community.
Here is a puzzling fact. The Minnesota Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance company is a "nonprofit" and somehow it is allowed to have a foundation that makes significant monetary grants to other Minnesota organizations. Does this make sense? If it is a nonprofit how can it have excess dollars to fund a foundation?
This month it is Allina in the embarrassing position of being the justified target of a critical story. Bad on Allina. Let us not make the mistake of viewing this as an aberration. Allina's misbehavior is rooted in a fundamental problem in our health care nonprofits, which typically worry more about maximizing market share and revenue rather than upholding their responsibility to our community. It is incumbent on all of us to work to make our Minnesota community work fairly for all. Please contact your legislators and request they work on this problem. Do not hesitate to contact your health care nonprofits. Are their compensation packages reasonable? Do their boards really support our community? Nonprofit boards should have a makeup representative of the community. Make a positive fuss so we can have a more just Minnesota.
Mark Brakke, Coon Rapids
The writer is a physician and board member of Health Care for All Minnesota.
From the DSA, a caricature
I have read and reread the commentaries "City confronts another time for choosing" by Steve Cramer juxtaposed with the one by Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America, "Our vision places human needs before profits" (Opinion Exchange, June 1).
The latter states that Cramer and others "are at City Hall every day to ensure protection for the interests of hedge funds and landlords." This comment ignores the interests of individual voters and taxpayers, many of whom have lived downtown for decades. On the other hand, Cramer reminds us kindly that citizens should consider many perspectives and succinctly puts it that "economic laws apply to Minneapolis."
It is clear to me that the Democratic Socialists understand less about the broader community than the broader community understands about the mistaken and misguided ideals of the Democratic Socialists. The Democratic Socialists would do well to read, and reread, Cramer's thoughtful comments.
William A. Levin, Minneapolis
Cramer wrote a thoughtful opinion piece. His comments about police reform were also appropriate but reflect continuing optimism for what is unlikely to be the reality of policing. The efforts to make policing better are to be encouraged, to be sure. But the reality is that police will often be called upon to confront people who are mentally ill, people who fight and resist lawful arrest, people who just are not very nice and people who are armed and dangerous to others — and to the police, too. Police officers go to work not knowing if they will confront a person who will shoot and kill them even in a situation of a simple traffic stop for speeding. Cramer's piece speaks of "rebuilding" the Minneapolis Police Department and of "safety services." But the reality is that in spite of all the well-intentioned and appropriate efforts of which he speaks, police will continue to face the life-or-death dangers they have always faced. There is insufficient acknowledgment of the realities of their difficult and dangerous service.
Thomas W. Wexler, Edina
Legal in your mansion
Regarding "What you need to know about the marijuana legalization bill" (May 28): What a law for the (relatively) wealthy. No smoking marijuana in multifamily buildings? Who does that penalize?
Carol A. Henderson, Minneapolis
In favor of a good party
One Sunday, I attended a drag show brunch with my two adult daughters to celebrate a birthday. I had no idea what to expect. I should have known, if Florida and Texas are trying to outlaw most things drag, it was going to be right up my alley.
It was a humor- and music-filled party. We got to visit with and be entertained by Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Madonna and others. They were "Dream Girls" all. Where else can you be entertained by so many talented people?
I was proud sitting next to my daughters with a room full of people celebrating with us — the artistry of drag, the celebration of inclusivity and the acceptance of every person in that room — your race, creed, color, gender, good voice, bad voice, it didn't matter. There just were smiles and laughter.
There's no business like show business. It was theater at its most fun.
Sandra Mahn, Plymouth