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“MNsure is getting a bigger share of a smaller pie,” said Jim Schowalter, president of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, in a press release. “While it’s great that more people are getting help from the federal and state governments to pay their monthly premiums, the fact that so few people have signed up is alarming. The bad news is that fewer people will be helping to pay for really high medical bills. In the past about 5,300 people (1.6 percent of those who bought health insurance on their own) needed medical care totaling $630 million. I’m concerned that fewer people paying premiums will mean more problems in the future.”

Chemotherapy Increases Risk of Kidney Damage in Breast Cancer Patients A new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health shows that side effects from chemotherapy could cause kidney damage in elderly breast cancer patients. This is one of the first population-based studies to examine the relationship between acute kidney injury and chemotherapy. Shuling Li, PhD, who conducted the research as part of her dissertation, analyzed two groups of women ages 66 through 89 who were diagnosed with stages I-III breast cancer between 1992 and 2007. The first group included 14,000 chemotherapy patients and the second group included 14,000 non-chemotherapy patients. She found that 110 of the chemotherapy patients had been hospitalized with acute kidney injur y, compared to 30 in the non-chemotherapy patient group. Li says there are two possible explanations for the association between chemotherapy and acute kidney injury. The first is that people who are treated with chemotherapy have a higher risk for infections and febrile neutropenia, a white blood cell illness. Those infections can advance into the body’s tissues and

damage kidneys. The second is that patients treated with chemotherapy often suffer from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can eventually cause dehydration and damage the kidneys.

Smoking Causes 6,000 Deaths, Costs $3 Billion Each Year Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has released a new report showing that smoking is responsible for 6,312 deaths and $3.19 billion in excess medical costs each year in Minnesota. The report, called “Health Care Costs and Smoking in Minnesota,” showed that while Minnesota’s smoking rate is at a historic low, there are populations that continue to smoke at disproportionately higher rates and that they are more frequently targeted by the tobacco industry’s marketing. Results show that low-income residents have significantly higher rates of smoking and smoking-related illnesses than the general population; people suffering from mental health issues smoke at nearly twice the rate of the general population; and 59 percent of American Indians in Minnesota smoke, along with 24 percent of Somalis, compared to 14 percent of all Minnesota adults. Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, a coalition of 50 organizations working to prevent youth smoking, responded to the report. “We all know the emotional and physical toll that smoking has on citizens of our state,” said Molly Moilanen, director of public affairs at ClearWay Minnesota and co-chair of the coalition. “Now we know the dollars and cents cost of tobacco use to Minnesota employers, taxpayers and citizens—billions of dollars spent combating diseases such as cancer and emphysema.”

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MN Healthcare News March 2017  
MN Healthcare News March 2017  

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