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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Trinity Regional Health System parent to explore new partnership
The parent organization of Trinity Regional Health System and Methodist Health Services Corp. of Peoria, Ill., said Tuesday that they have entered into a nonbinding letter of intent to explore a strategic partnership. If Iowa Health System, which is Trinity’s parent organization, and Methodist are in agreement after completing a process of which the letter of intent is the first step, Methodist will become the eighth senior affiliate hospital of Iowa Health System. (Quad-City Business Journal)

Oskaloosa hospital creates $25.4 million impact
Mahaska Health Partnership (MHP) generates 350 jobs that add $25.4 million to Mahaska County’s economy, according to the latest study by the Iowa Hospital Association.  In addition, MHP employees by themselves spend $5.8 million on retail sales and contribute $349,600 in state sales tax revenue. “We recognize our impact in the community as one of the top five employers,” said MHP CEO Jay Christensen. “As a business leader, we have made a commitment to be good community partners.” (Mahaska Health Partnership)

Big disparity found in health of Iowans
Delaware County in northeast Iowa has the state’s healthiest residents, while those living in Appanoose County are the least healthy. The report by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation documents a significant health disparity between some Iowa counties. The state’s most healthy counties are generally clustered in northeast Iowa, while the least healthy are primarily in southern Iowa, historically home to many of the state’s poorest residents. (Des Moines Register)

U.S. News

A primer on health care ‘exchanges’
It seems like a simple idea: Create new marketplaces, called “exchanges,” where consumers can comparison shop for health insurance — sort of like shopping online for a hotel room or airline ticket. But, like almost everything else connected with the health-care overhaul law, state-based insurance exchanges are embroiled in politics. Some Republican governors are threatening to refuse to set up exchanges unless they get more flexibility over Medicaid, the state-federal health program for the poor. Others say they don’t want to implement any part of the federal health-care law. (Washington Post)

High-deductible health plans: When spending less isn’t always good
Redesigning insurance in a way that actually lowers spending and, by the way, promotes good health, is a lot more complicated than merely giving people “more skin in the game,” as conservatives like to put it. A new study by researchers affiliated with the Rand Corporation suggests why. (Kaiser Health News)

Feds to release dialysis clinic data
Federal regulators say they are moving to make once-confidential data about the performance of kidney dialysis clinics more readily available to the public. The move, disclosed in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, follows a ProPublica investigation last year that revealed substandard care and weak oversight in some clinics. (ProPublica)

Tainted IV packs suspected in Alabama hospital deaths
Nine patients died in Alabama hospitals — most in the Birmingham area — after receiving intravenous nutritional supplements contaminated with a lethal bacteria, the state health department said Tuesday.  A total of 19 patients in six hospitals were confirmed to be infected, the Centers for Disease Control found in an investigation called at the state’s request. (Birmingham News)

AMA launches mobile app and challenge
The American Medical Association is making its first foray into the software development world with a free CPT (current procedural terminology) code glossary application. So far, the app includes just 129 codes classified for evaluation and management, for consultations, critical care services, domiciliary, ED, home services, hospital inpatient, hospital observation, inpatient neonatal, newborn care, non face-to-face, nursing facility, preventive medicine, and prolonged services. The AMA wants to go beyond this single app and is offering $2,500  in cash and prizes for ideas to generate “the next great medical app.” (HealthLeaders Media)

Hard times prompt calls for zany Medicaid measures
When New York’s Medicaid director asked the public for money-saving ideas, the most popular suggestion, as measured by the sheer volume of emails, left him a bit red-faced: End payments for routine circumcisions. Though the idea didn’t make the cut for New York’s latest cost-curbing plan, it’s just one example of how interest groups, such as the anti-circumcision group, businesses and other policy proponents are pushing to capitalize on states’ dire Medicaid shortfalls. (National Public Radio)

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