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

Iowa News

Hard to read tea leaves on tossing whole health law vs. parts
During Tuesday’s arguments, Justice Kennedy made it clear that he is wrestling with the question of whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional (unlike most of his colleagues, who apparently have already reached their own conclusions on that question), said Todd Pettys, a university of Iowa law professor. One of the main issues debated at the Court today was what should happen if the Court does indeed strike down the individual mandate: should the rest of the 2700-page statute be allowed to stand, should the whole thing be struck down, or should only parts of it be struck down (and, if so, which parts?). (Des Moines Register)

Another big day for the Blue Zone Project in Sioux City
Vote Blue. That’s what the City of Sioux City is urging people to do Thursday. It’s the next big push towards becoming a Blue Zone Demonstration site for the state. Right now, Sioux City has 4,700 votes in support of making Sioux City a Blue Zone Demonstration site. And their goal is to reach 10,000 by next week. “It shows our state…the board that is looking at this… that our community is energized and interested. It cares about its own health and its own future. And that’s what were asking,” says Paul Eckert, city manager. (KCAU)

Mason City hospital mourns death of nurse
“Gretchen touched many lives and not just those in critical care, but in so many places with her excitement around life, nursing and leadership.” Chief Nursing Officer Kim Chamberlin speaks passionately about Gretchen Crooks. Crooks was killed Saturday evening in rural Osage. Now, her 13 year-old son Noah Crooks is in custody and facing charges for murder and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. Gretchen was a crinical care nurse at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. (KIMT)

Lung cancer still tops cancer deaths in Iowa
Health experts say Iowa will fall short in its “healthiest state” goal if legislators continue to slash tobacco control funding. That funding is necessary to combat the state’s leading fatal cancer: lung cancer, according to the State Health Registry of Iowa. The tobacco industry spent $100 million in Iowa last year, as the Legislature halved the tobacco prevention and control budget to about $3 million, said Dr. Christopher Squier, University of Iowa professor of oral pathology. (KCRG)

National News

Hospitals fear loss of insurance payments if mandate is struck down
The American Medical Association argued in a brief to the court that the bill could hurt hospitals’ finances if the individual mandate is the only portion of the law to be struck down or altered. Hospitals expected a wave of newly insured patients to offset cuts to government reimbursement for programs like Medicare and Medicaid called for under the law. They fear they may be squeezed by declining payments without the benefit of an influx of new patients. If the court finds the law unconstitutional, the government may press ahead on plans to cut reimbursements in a effort to rein in spending. (Chicago Tribune)

Pittsburgh hospital could be liable in fatal shooting
The mentally ill gunman who killed a nurse and wounded several others at a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center psychiatric hospital had previously threatened staff at an affiliated hospital with a baseball bat, according to a prosecutor who is trying to determine whether UPMC could be held criminally liable. Medical records and other information show 30-year-old John Shick, held a grudge, believing he had misdiagnosed illnesses ranging from a bad ankle to pancreatitis to erectile dysfunction. Shick twice went to UPMC Shadyside hospital in February with the bat and threatened the staff, and yet Pittsburgh police were not called, said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. (Washington Post)

Hospital pay incentives fail to help patients: study
A program to pay hospitals bonuses for hitting key performance measures, or dock them if they miss, failed to improve the health outcomes of patients, according to a large, long-term study. The study could lead to a re-examination of financial incentives in health care, as policymakers seek ways to reward results rather than paying doctors and other providers for each service they provide, such as a diagnostic test. Such an incentive program for hospitals is a key provision of the U.S. health care overhaul law that is being challenged this week before the Supreme Court. (Reuters)

Cleveland Clinic seeks to hire 600 nurses
Cleveland Clinic this week is using the city’s professional football stadium to field a three-day recruiting blitz to hire 600 new registered nurses.  The Stanley Shalom Zielony Institute for Nursing Excellence organized the job fair both to fill vacant posts and to proactively prepare for anticipated new demands that will come with health care reforms. (HealthLeaders Media)

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