Short takes for Dec. 20
Little sure about MNsure
Try finding anyone who has anything positive to say about MNsure, Minnesota’s new online health care exchange. Forget about how MNsure and the Affordable Care Act negativity will affect Democrats in November, the problems with MNsure and Obamacare are everyone’s problems, no matter what party you root for. The fact that the director of MNsure resigned this week does nothing to quell our fears over the exchange; the board needs to dive head-first into the issues surrounding MNsure and fix them. The deadline to enroll is Monday, but don’t be surprised if that gets pushed back. And if it does eventually get fixed, don’t be surprised if Republicans – here in Minnesota and around the country – continue to remind us during the next 10 months what a fiasco Obamacare and MNsure so quickly turned into.
No cell chatting on these planes
Thank you, Delta Air Lines, for deciding to not allow your passengers to make or take cell phone calls from your planes. With the federal government hinting it will loosen restrictions on cell phone usage from planes in the future, Delta said this week it’s not on board with the plan. It’s one thing to listen to a crying child on a plane – sometimes, that can’t be helped – but add a bunch of annoying ring tones and the din of private conversations and you have yourself one unbearable flight experience.
Scary stuff coming out of the retail world this week when it was announced that some 40 million credit and debit card accounts might have been affected by a data breach that took place and apparently lasted from Nov. 27-Dec. 15. Stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards. Like it or not, this is the world we live in, where a swipe of a card can easily expose your personal information and make you a victim of identity theft. Target is not the only retailer to deal with a data breach, as stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s went through something similar eight years ago. Chances are most people reading this aren’t affected by the data breach at Target since there isn’t a store in Marshall, but it’s a good reminder to shop carefully and keep an eye on all your receipts and card statements.
Need more transparency
It took some digging, but the Independent finally got some answers concerning the incident in August where a man was found dead in an unlocked Lyon County Sheriff’s Department squad car outside the Lyon County Law Enforcement Center (story published Dec. 14). The investigation was shuffled to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which told the Independent last week the death was ruled accidental. The BCA said the investigation is still considered open, but in response to a request from the Independent for a final report after closure of the investigation, the BCA said in an email that it doesn’t plan on issuing a release at the conclusion of its investigation – it typically doesn’t, we were told. While we will continue our due diligence on this case, we have to wonder, why not just issue a release? When something tragic like this occurs, people naturally have questions, especially about accountability, and any lack of transparency, no matter the level of law enforcement, only makes people question things more. We also hope if it had been determined that someone was to blame – a piece of information people would want, and deserve, to know – that law enforcement would be forthcoming with such news. That’s information it should be prepared to share.
From deal breakers to deal makers
Call it a miracle of the season. Congress on Wednesday reached a bipartisan agreement on the budget, meaning, for now, we don’t have to be concerned about another government shutdown like we saw in October. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed its measure Wednesday, six days after the Republican-controlled House passed its legislation. We need a functioning government and the deal reached this week will avert another shutdown in January when spending authority was set to expire (Jan. 15). We can only hope this is the start of a new era that sees more bipartisanship and compromise and Washington.