At Minnesota Public Radio, Catherine Richert reports in DHS questions whether Mayo policy violates law:
The Minnesota Department of Human Services is probing the Mayo Clinic for possible violations of civil- and human-rights laws by putting a higher priority on patients with commercial insurance.
The review, confirmed Thursday by DHS Commissioner Emily Piper, follows reports that Mayo will give preference to privately insured patients.
Piper's department is also evaluating its various contracts with the Mayo Clinic system, which reaches far beyond its Rochester home base. Those contracts served over 150,000 public program enrollees last year, including lab work and pharmacy services.
Piper's actions are in response to a video transcript leaked to the Star Tribune in which Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy explains the policy to employees.
This possible violation of civil and human rights on Mayo's part reminded Bluestem Prairie of an earlier time when the Mayo Clinic worked to make America great. Beth Karon's article on the B'nai Israel Synagogue's website, History of our Congregation, provides a snapshot of discrimination in Rochester in the 1920s:
After years of their service, especially that of Mama Sternberg, Samuel Sternberg put together enough money to build the Northwestern Hotel, which served as a Jewish hostelry and kosher eating establishment. It also became a meeting place for intellectuals of that period – regardless of their religion – including doctors, students, and literary enthusiasts. In the 1920’s, Mayo started charging a $100.00 deposit to select groups of patients before they could be seen. Jews were among this select group (along with “Negroes and Greeks”). Since many were immigrants with meager funds, the congregation would help provide this fee when needed.
It was B’nai Israel Synagogue that contacted the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League about this discriminatory treatment. Because of the protests waged by the local and non-local Jewish communities, two things happened in 1927: First, Mayo withdrew the deposit requirement, and second, a denominational medical social service, which included a Jewish medical social worker, was established. Thus, B’nai Brith International began serving in Rochester. The overall care of the religious needs, visiting the sick, and disposition of the deceased still rested on the shoulders of the Rochester community of 25 families.
Elsewhere on the website, those who were discriminated against in terms of payment are described as “Jews, actors, and other indigent types.” In short, people with whom Bluestem might like to hang out. We also deeply appreciate the fact that people living in Greater Minnesota organizing to make greater Minnesota a better place didn't start in November 2016.
Photo: The Avalon Music building in Rochester, which Wikipedia (photo credit) tells us:
a historic three-story red brick building in Rochester, Minnesota. It opened in 1919 as the Northwestern Hotel. The Sam Sternberg family operated it as a kosher restaurant and hotel for Jewish travelers, including many visitors to the Mayo Clinic nearby.
In 1944, Vern Manning bought it and renamed it the Avalon Hotel. As the only hotel in the area which welcomed African Americans before desegregation, its guests included Duke Ellington and boxer Henry Armstrong. It became a local focus of the Civil Rights Movement and opposition to it; both a march for racial equality and a cross burning occurred at the property on August 23, 1963.
Perhaps Mayo Clinic might try to set a different date than 1926 for making America great again.
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