Smith “proud” of No Surprises Act; Fatal traffic accidents in state, down in Rice County; City council overview

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US Senator Tina Smiths

Senator Tina Smith has co-sponsored a new law that will prevent patients from having to pay unexpected bills in emergencies they did not expect.

Under the No Surprises Act, excessive out-of-pocket expenses will be limited and emergency services must continue to be covered without prior authorization, whether or not a provider or facility is part of the insurance network. this patient.

Senator Smith said about 20% of all patients who visit an emergency room end up with a bill like this. These bills can result from being seen by an off-grid specialist, or if a patient is taken to a facility not associated with their insurance plan, or even from the use of an air ambulance. The senator said this type of surprise billing will no longer occur.

“You shouldn’t be responsible,” she said, “for a bill you had no intention of paying.”

Instead, the law has a mechanism that allows and requires bills to be established between the service provider, the health facility, and the insurance company.

The bill was passed over a year ago as part of a bipartisan effort, she said, but it took some time to sort out all the details and educate the healthcare system on how the new law works. However, she said, the long-term effects of this bill were worth the wait.

“I think this will be an important step in helping to lower health care costs for people. I am proud of this legislation, I helped to co-sponsor it. It was a bipartisan effort, and I think it’s a real step in the right direction. It is an important law for the protection of consumers.

The new law entered into force on January 1st.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Senator Tina Smith can be heard here

Thomas Says Rice County Road Fatalities “Still Too Many”

Rice County Sheriff Jesse Thomas

The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety reports the preliminary number of road fatalities in Minnesota in 2021, and the total is the state’s highest in fourteen years.

Preliminary figures show 497 people died on Minnesota’s roads last year, nearly 100 more than in 2020. This is the first time that number has approached 500 since 2007, when 510 people have died. on the roads of Minnesota.

In Rice County, Sheriff Jesse Thomas said, there were 5 road fatalities in 2021. The total is half the number for 2020, but Sheriff Thomas said just one fatality was too many.

“The total may be down,” he said, “but five deaths in Rice County is still a lot.”

The most important factor, according to the Ministry of Public Security, was the high speed. Throughout the year, members of the local law enforcement community have reported speeds of up to 100 MPH on county roads and highways, which are not designed to handle this type of speed. . Sheriff Thomas said the other important factors were people driving while intoxicated and distracted driving.

Statewide, the Department of Public Safety said 162 of the deaths were related to speed, 124 were related to alcohol or drug use and 24 more were due to distracted driving.

Sheriff Thomas also urged caution when driving in winter conditions. The combination of freezing conditions and sub-zero temperatures, he said, makes cleaning the roads particularly difficult.

“It is difficult for Mn Dot and our County Plow Drivers to remove this thin layer of ice from the roads, when it is below zero and the sun is not shining. Some of the chemicals [they use] don’t perform as well as they do when it’s above zero. You just have to keep in mind that they are doing their best, and it is up to the drivers of the vehicles to slow down and be careful.

The most important thing a driver can do while behind the wheel is drive at posted speeds, put away all distractions, like a cell phone, and everyone in a vehicle should always wear a seat belt. . Sheriff Thomas said the hardest part of his job was informing families of a tragedy.

“We don’t want to have to visit your house, or the house of your loved one, and tell them that you are not coming home,” he said.

Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Rice County Sheriff Jesse Thomas can be heard here

Council working session scheduled for this evening

And Northfield City Council will meet this evening for a working session in the Town Hall Council Chamber, with several items on the agenda.

The Council will hear a presentation given by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities regarding membership and benefits, there will be a review and discussion of the redistribution process that every community across the country is going through right now, there will be an update on the effectiveness of board and commission governance, and the development of Kraewood will be on the agenda again as the planning commission has obviously asked the board to respond to a specific situation in the preliminary platt.

As always, Northfield City Council and City staff are eager to hear the views of the public on any issue, whether the topic is on the council’s agenda or not. As this is a working meeting, Council will not hear from the public during tonight’s meeting. However, those wishing to make a point, express an opinion or ask a question can email their advisor directly or use the electronic comment feature found in the “Agendas” section of the city’s website.

Tonight’s meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m.

Rich Larson is the director of KYMN News. Contact him at [email protected]

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