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New Report Emerges of UnitedHealth’s Staggering Greed

Plus obliterating Olson Memorial, and the latest round of restaurant and venue closures, and hockey hair in today's Flyover news roundup.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

A Fun New Way for Health Insurers to Prey

Is UnitedHealth Group Inc. our most evil company? You could make a strong case! Here's the latest example: The Minnetonka-based health insurance giant is rushing to buy up cash-strapped medical practices, reports The American Prospect—medical practices that are cash-strapped precisely because of UnitedHealth, a company that generates $5.8 billion (!!!) per quarter. More specifically, "because of a weeks-long outage of UnitedHealth’s Change Healthcare clearinghouse and claims processing systems, which has halted the flow of information that enables physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers to get paid for their work." Here's more from TAP's Maureen Tkacik:

Every dollar in revenue that has disappeared from hospitals, medical practices, and pharmacies in the aftermath of the outage corresponds to an extra dollar sitting in the coffers of the nation’s health insurers, so UnitedHealth, which pays out roughly $662 million in medical claims each day, is presumably sitting on a mountain of unexpected cash. 

Surely UnitedHealth is working to deliver every missing penny to these health centers, right? Ha ha, no: It's offering providers shamefully small loans—in some cases as little as $10 to—“tide them over.” A physician in suburban Philadelphia told The American Prospect her $6 million-a-year practice was offered $3,300 by UnitedHealth’s emergency loan program; the outage could end up forcing her to sell her 80-employee practice for far less than its worth. The hack “has created a massive going-out-of-business sale … There are so many distressed assets to prey upon," Joshua Corman, former chief strategist of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Covid task force said.

Could Olson Memorial Become a Memory?

Bill Lindeke explores that question in MinnPost today, because surprisingly, it seems like a real possibility. While Lindeke notes that freeway removal projects in other metro areas have been "comically scarce" and damn near require an "act of god" to achieve (for example, San Francisco’s elevated freeway was destroyed by a 1989 earthquake) MnDOT is literally, actually looking to downsize Olson Memorial Highway/Highway 55. The story takes a look at the history of North Sixth Avenue, which was once a bustling Black and Jewish neighborhood lined with shops and apartments—that is, before it was destroyed to make Olson, completed in 1940, a reality. Now, partially inspired by the new C Line bus rapid transit project, MnDOT is exploring what it could look like to change or shrink the highway, potentially with designated bus or bike lanes and new sidewalks. If you have thoughts about the future of the roadway, take the state transit authority's survey here.

Closing Time

"Leave 'em wonton more," Tori 44 wrote on Instagram this weekend, and while we've gotta give it up for the wordplay (the caption also says "it’s become untenable to noodle around any longer") you may have deduced that the news contained in that post is not so good. We're sorry to say the North Side ramen shop has closed, effective immediately. In January, Tori 44 made our list of dining destinations along the D Line thanks to its "decadent and nourishing" brothy bowls.

Tori's St. Paul ramen shop will remain open though, and speaking of St. Paul: Mediterranean restaurant Momento has announced its imminent closure after shutting down, rebranding, and reopening in September. The last day of service will be this Sunday, March 16.

And then, on the live music side, there's KJ's Hideaway, the St. Paul nightclub that opened in the Hamm's building back in 2021, which has also closed effective immediately "due to unexpected emergent personal matters." All future shows are canceled, according to a Facebook post, and the club will be issuing refunds over the coming weeks. OK, now you're all caught up!

Folks, It's Your 2024 Minnesota State High School All Hockey Hair Team

It's a 'Sota salad tradition like no other. Without further ado, please enjoy this year's country-themed All Hockey Hair Team, "Friends in Flow Places."

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