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The latest story from Lino Lakes ("Lino Lakes panel backs 1-year delay on mosque housing development," StarTribune.com, June 18) is yet another example of how local governments directly contribute to our state's housing shortage.

Existing rules require multifamily developments to go through public hearings. These hearings often turn into a venting session for residents, who come up with myriad reasons the city should prevent the new housing. Whether it's the inclusion of a mosque, perceptions that there is not enough parking, or the "we don't want these people here" argument, there are always vocal residents who will come up with a reason to oppose new housing.

These types of public hearings happen in every city across our state. They give a platform to those who want to exclude people from communities. The result? A statewide housing shortage, which directly leads to rising housing costs.

The solution is simple: Legalize more types of homes across the state. Public processes shouldn't pit one group against another, yet that's exactly how they are currently designed. Our Legislature needs to step in if we want to increase our housing supply and lower housing costs for Minnesotans.

Anton Schieffer, Minneapolis


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The decision of the Lino Lakes Planning and Zoning Board to delay a project for a housing project with a mosque to be built in the city may not be Islamophobia, as some proclaim. But its reasons for the delay — that water supply will be affected, traffic will be severe and schools will be overloaded — strongly suggest it. If not, then its decision to delay is yet another example of a sign of our times, that people (mostly in suburbia and rural regions) are too quick to reject science and facts in their thinking. Nowhere in the article did I read anything about what the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Transportation or the local school board had to say about the proposal.

Ted Field, Mahtomedi


LEGALIZING SPORTS BETTING

If we want to do it, let's do it right

Consumer protections keep us safe on the road, guide our purchases and shield us from harm.

Yet the article "Betting foes were set; battle never came," recapping the Legislature's 11th-hour attempt to legalize sports betting, failed to acknowledge this safety net as a stance. It made a sweeping, faulty assertion when writing that the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling (MNAPG) "takes no position on the issue."

In fact, for 24 years, MNAPG has stood as the lone clarion voice advocating for statewide education, prevention and intervention services. Throughout this session, our team engaged legislators and provided expert testimony.

Our position: Minnesota needs a more comprehensive game plan before legalizing sports betting. Despite the state's sterling public health reputation, too few leaders see problem gambling as a legitimate addiction deserving sufficient safeguards. Even without passing sports betting, 250,000 Minnesotans are impacted. Yet zero federal dollars are allocated for these protections, necessitating dependence on state gambling revenue — another oversight.

As advocates, we witness these shortcomings firsthand: individuals trying to recoup money from offshore sportsbooks, parents discovering their children illegally betting and those in recovery being deluged with gambling ads. Adding sports betting onto Minnesota's playbook without prioritizing consumer protections like advertising limits and a prop bet ban — alongside increased funding for education and treatment — is a guaranteed misstep.

Readers can learn more about our position in action by attending our conference Sept. 19, exploring our social media channels or visiting MNAPG.org.

Susan Sheridan Tucker, Roseville

The writer is executive director, Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling.


HEALTH CARE

Yet another story of coverage chaos

Thank you, state Sen. Kari Dziedzic, for your commentary detailing your experiences with the health care system ("My cancer journey: an enlightened perspective," Opinion Exchange, June 18). So often what is and isn't covered, and the restrictions and authorizations required, are extremely difficult for most people to navigate. Many of them make no sense.

Several years ago, my mother, age 90, broke her hip while visiting us here in Minnesota. EMS staff, the hospital, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and other medical staff were wonderful. We found a great place for her to receive care and physical therapy and work to transition back home. She worked hard!

Here comes the crazy part. At a point in her physical therapy, unless she could put more weight on her hip, therapy could not continue. She wasn't scheduled to see her surgeon for more than a week, at which time we hoped and prayed he would give her the OK for that weight. In the interim, because physical therapy was discontinued, Medicare would not pay for her continued stay at the facility. My mother still required a wheelchair and couldn't dress herself, shower, go to the bathroom by herself or do many other things because of her continued inability to walk unassisted. Our homes weren't set up in any way for a wheelchair, nor were we able to provide the amount of care she needed. What to do? She couldn't stay. We had no place for her to go.

Luckily, we were able to come up with the approximately $5,000 it cost out of pocket for her to remain at the facility until her appointment with her surgeon. Luckily the appointment was scheduled within a week's time rather than several weeks or more. Also luckily, her surgeon gave the OK for her to put more weight on her hip and leg. Catastrophe averted. I have often thought of what we could have done, and what others do, when the money isn't available. This is the epitome of being between a rock and a hard place.

Jeanne Torma, Minneapolis


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Dziedzic, a five-term Minnesota senator, did us a favor by reporting on her experience with cancer. Tellingly, her essay focuses on issues like prior authorization, regulatory complexity and sky-high costs even more than the disease itself. As she points out, most of us assume that having medical insurance means not having to worry about the financial and legal aspects of getting a serious diagnosis. There are health care systems in the world in which that may be true, but ours is not one of them.

While Minnesotans fare better than residents of most other states, Dziedzic's experience indicates that we still have big problems with our expensive and fragmented health financing system. Rather than a rational statewide or nationwide system, we have an array of programs and fixes accumulated over many decades. Top priority is given to protecting the revenue streams of insurers, hospitals and associated suppliers. Hence Dziedzic learned that medical solutions prescribed by her providers would not be covered if an insurer anticipated it would cost them too much.

In addition, our bureaucratic patchwork of partial solutions means that Dziedzic had to navigate different corporate entities, rules and coverages, depending on whether she was dealing with medical equipment, transitional care or chemotherapy. Of course, none of these coordinate with the other.

There are solutions to the deficiencies of our fragmented health care financing system. State Sen. John Marty's Minnesota Health Plan is the best example. Achieving improvement means that popular awareness and political will must overcome greed and institutional inertia. Dziedzic's work is not done.

Joel Clemmer, St. Paul

The writer is a member of Health Care for All Minnesota.