5 x 8: Politics, strange bedfellows, and the abortion issue

1) ABORTION ISSUES SPLITS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE COALITION

The MPR’s Tim Pugmire provided a perfect example of how politics can make strange bedfellows.

The National Organization for Women is upset that Minnesota United, the group that pushed for legalization of same sex marriage in the state, is carrying through on its promise to work for the re-election of legislators who supported them if they faced significant backlash in their districts for the vote.

The problem for NOW is that many of the legislators have anti-abortion agendas. Many of them are being targeted for defeat by NOW.

Minnesota United says it’s been transparent all along and none of this should surprise anyone.

NOW says it disrespects the coalition that formed to push for same-sex marriage.

“Their success in getting same-sex marriage passed was coalition work,” a NOW official said. “This ignores the needs of a really large contingent that went into it. To me, that’s turning your back on your coalition partners.”

But Minnesota United was a one-issue organization. Does it have a responsibility to defend other issues that may be favored by coalition partners? Discuss and take the survey.

2) CALCULATING HEALTH CARE

Much is being made of the prices being charged by insurance companies vying for business on the MNsure health exchange website under the new health care law — $144 a month for the barest coverage. But is that the real cost of what you’ll pay for insurance?

Minnesota has the lowest average premiums nationwide on three health insurance plans that will be sold under the federal health care overhaul.

Wisconsin didn’t set up its own exchange, has only a couple of insurers selling it (at least at this end of the state) and higher than average prices. But, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says, after tax credits, the cost for a family of four might be about $100 a month.

“You think you get a really sweet deal on health insurance,” says Georgetown’s Sabrina Corlette tells APM’s Marketplace.“The premium is just one dimension of your health insurance cost.”

Add up the copays and the out-of-pocket costs and a different price emerges.

Avalere Health has analyzed some of the plans being offered.

The so-called “bronze plans” — the cheapest ones — have some tricks that the mere mortal might not be able to notice. “Approximately 90 percent of Bronze plans will rely on coinsurance, which is calculated based as a percentage of drug costs rather than fixed dollar co-payments,” it says. And that’s higher than a typical copay per prescription.

Deductibles for the bronze plans could be as high as about $5,000, compared to the average of $1,135 per year for employee-sponsored plans.

“The Affordable Care Act does have annual spending caps of $6,400 for an individual, $12,800 for a family,” Marketplace’s Dan Gorenstein notes. “And most of the policies on the exchange qualify for federal subsidies. But if you can’t afford all the deductibles and co-pays, your insurance might not be worth much, no matter how cheap your monthly premium.”

More information:
State-by-State Premiums Under the Health Care Law (New York Times)

3) DARK DAYS FOR THE ARTS?

Given the labor strife at two area orchestras and continuing funding drops at cultural non-profits, perhaps a new poll out shouldn’t surprise: the arts isn’t the draw it used to be, the New York Times reports today.

One out of every three Americans visited an art installation or performance last year, the survey says, but it’s a drop over a previous survey and it’s a particular big drop for musicals and plays.

Among the good news is that a larger proportion of African-Americans and Hispanics are attending arts performances than ever before, the Times said.

Some arts officials say it might only be that people “are consuming arts differently,” though he didn’t say how.

4) PUSHING BACK AGAINST ‘TEACHING TO THE TEST’

An Andover man has opted out of standardized testing for his kids, saying schools are teaching to the test. He’s an engineer and tells Twin Cities Daily Planet that kids are getting good at filling in circles.

(Eric) Kohnke says that he has “always been opposed to multiple choice tests for math and science,” which are included in the annual MCA tests, along with a reading test. For Kohnke, multiple choice tests in math emphasize product—the right answer—over process, or knowing how to find the right answer. Instead, Kohnke wants his children to have more experience learning how to find their way to the correct answers, saying that not understanding the process “won’t fly” in college or the workplace.

5) DON’T FEAR AUTUMN

We never tire of montage videos from the far-flug corners of Minnesota. Never. Keep them coming.

Bonus I: How to look busy at work.

Bonus II: twin city sidewalks: Q: Why Don’t Bikers Stop at Stop Signs?.

Bonus III:
Hudson, Wisconsin passive house at center of co-op solar dispute (Midwest Energy News)

Bonus IV: On This Date in 1983, Stanislav Petrov Single-Handedly Prevented Nuclear War (Mental Floss).

WHAT WE’RE DOING

I’m speaking to a journalism class over at the University of Minnesota late this morning so there won’t be much posting here until (maybe) mid afternoon. Come and hit “refresh” on your browser anyone. A guy’s gotta eat.

Daily Circuit (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.): First hour: President Obama has promised a troop withdraws from Afghanistan by 2014. Additionally, Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, is trying to work with a smaller budget. With less money and fewer troops, logic would dictate a less powerful military. But maybe it’s just a matter of thinking smarter and crunching the numbers differently.

Second hour: Is homework a waste of time?

Third hour: What do we owe our parents?

MPR News Presents (12 p.m. to 1 p.m.):  Live broadcast of the Westminster Town Hall Forum. The speaker is Mark McKinnon, co-founder of No Labels. His speech is titled, “Making Government Work.”

The Takeaway (1 p.m. to 2 p.m.): TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.): Wheat is one of the many sources of gluten in our diet. And there’s been a rise in the number of people who don’t seem to tolerate it. So has something changed about wheat? Or has something changed about us? NPR searches for the culprit behind problems with gluten.

  • Eric Chandler

    I find if you walk fast with a piece of paper in your hand, it’s really good camouflage.

    • http://www.fark.com/ Onan

      A clipboard or folder is better.

    • John Peschken

      I prefer a clipboard. Looks like you’ve got LOTS of stuff to hurry around doing.

    • andy

      Also, look a little angry. Not only to you look busy, few (if any) will bother you.

  • http://www.fark.com/ Onan

    1) The answer is right in the article:

    “Minnesota United was a one-issue organization.”

    Bonus 1) Good tips, but do the clipboard or folder thing and make sure you have blocked out time on your calendar for “meetings”

  • Bonnie

    Regarding health insurance. I have a hard time understanding the bellyaching about deductibles and copays…if you don’t have any insurance you have to pay full retail prices for anything you consume, right? So we are comparing having a bronze policy to having no insurance and either not consuming any healthcare at all or just simply not paying for anything you do consume? The days of having health insurance that pays 100% of everything are over ( see cadillac plans ).

    • Starquest

      I think part of the complaint is that, right now, if you can’t afford insurance, you don’t pay for insurance. (You pay 100% for medical services.)

      With Obamacare, you pay something no matter what. With the high deductible, maybe you would still have to pay 100% out-of-pocket if your medical needs are minimal. So you’re still paying 100% PLUS the premium.

      • Kassie

        If you can’t afford insurance, like really can’t afford it, it is free. Medicaid will go to the poorest. If you sort of can’t afford it, it will be cheap for a gold level plan under MinnesotaCare. A sliding fee with low, low premiums. If you sort of, kind of can’t afford it, it will be subsidized and you will be able to chose a gold, silver or bronze plan. You could chose a gold plan and pay very little with your subsidy, not have much of a deductible, just the monthly payments.

        • Starquest

          Good points.

    • http://www.farces.com/ mfraase

      //Regarding health insurance. I have a hard time understanding the bellyaching about deductibles and copays…

      Two words: Medical bankruptcy.

      In 2000 I was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (permanent, non-curable kidney failure) after having never been sick a day in my life. I had health insurance. By 2002 we were bankrupt from just the 2000 deductibles and co-pays.

  • Kassie

    1) Aside from Minnesota United being transparent from the beginning, NOW needs to realize that some of their other coalition partners are pro-life. MN United is just not choosing between their partners and is sticking with what they said from the beginning.

    • John O.

      Spot on, Kassie. Coalitions of any type can get complicated when one organization within a given coalition expects others to toe the line with their position on one (or more) other issues. As a former boss of mine stated many years ago, “I’d rather have an ally who agrees with us 80 percent of the time, instead of an opponent who agrees only 20 percent of the time. However, in politics there are no friendships–only alliances.”

  • Eric Chandler

    I look at the paper and furrow my brow while I’m walking. Works every time.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    1. MNU has no obligation to any issue other than the ones for which it was formed. It is not (yet) a catch-all liberal campaign organization in the way that unions or other DFL-aligned groups might be. I don’t know how NOW or anyone else could have even come away with that perception except for just assuming it from the start.

    • BJ

      I’m not sure if it is real anger, or PR anger. My bet is on the later. Full disclosure NOW was a client when I worked in political stuff.

  • Mitch

    Be sure to go HD and full-screen on that video from the Superior trail. I wish my dog was that cool…

  • crossons

    Thanks for the bit about opting out of the state tests. I’ll be calling our district tomorrow to do the same.