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

Iowa News

Mental health reform on legislators ‘must do’ list
With the Legislature moving toward adjournment as soon as this week, many of the most talked about issues will likely be tabled for another session. But one won’t: mental health reform. Last year, the legislators passed a bill that requires Iowa’s current county-by-county mental health system to be revamped into a statewide system by July 1, 2013. Also on that date, the county-based tax levies for mental health will end, with mental health care costs coming out of Iowa’s general fund. If legislators don’t approve a reform bill, the levy will end without giving counties most of what they need to pay for mental health services. (Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

Parents, hospital partner for window safety
It’s window safety awareness week across the country. Last year, seven children in the metro area fell out of windows. Four-year-old Hannah Geneser was one of them, and that day plays over and over in her father’s head. Jamie Geneser and his family have made it their mission ever since to educate parents on window safety. They’ve set up the Hannah Geneser Foundation and partnered with Blank Children’s Hospital. “Someone’s life and the life of a family can change in such a split second,” said Anne Garinger, the Safety Coordinator at Blank. (WOI)

Trinity Muscatine grows with $18.5M expansion
In about six weeks, Trinity Muscatine will break ground on an $18.5 million expansion of the hospital’s emergency, operating, laboratory and radiology departments. “Our staff is so excited they almost can’t contain themselves,” Jim Hayes, Trinity Muscatine’s chief executive officer, said Friday. “They are anxious to get moving.” Hayes cited increased demand for services and patient privacy as the main reasons for the planned ER expansion, expected to be completed in December. (Muscatine Journal)

New Q-C area children’s health clinics a collaboration
Parents who used to drive several times a year to Iowa City to obtain specialized pediatric health care for their children may have to travel only as far as Bettendorf once several doctors open new practices in one location. The increase in services was announced Monday as a partnership between Genesis Health System and the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.  “This is a really great day for children in the Quad-City region,” said Doug Cropper, the president and CEO of Genesis. “It is an exciting day for our youngest patients and their families.” (Quad-City Times)

National News

President confident health law will stand
In his first public comments since court questioning last week suggested that it might find the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, Mr. Obama offered both a robust defense of the law and a barbed warning to justices thinking of striking it down. “For years what we’ve heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or the lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law,” Mr. Obama said after meeting at the White House with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. (New York Times)

When more expensive medicine is better
The theory behind the health reform law is that you can deliver better care at lower cost. Support for that idea comes from a robust body of research—most prominently the Dartmouth Atlas project. But sometimes, more expensive care is also better care. That’s what a team of health care economists have found in a new NBER paper, which looked at Medicare patients in New York. It found that, all other things being equal, those treated in higher-spending hospitals had mortality rates 20 to 30 percent lower than those treated in low-cost facilities. Those findings, in some ways, contradict the Dartmouth Atlas research, which has suggested that more can be less. (Washington Post)

As health care giants merge, pharmacies aren’t happy
Express Scripts sealed its long-planned deal to buy Medco Health Solutions on Monday after the Federal Trade Commission voted 3-1 that it would not stifle competition in the industry. The two companies already provide prescription drug benefit services to some 135 million people — more than 1 out of every 3 Americans. But while the FTC might not think the $29 billion union of Express Scripts and Medco threatens the market for how prescription drugs are distributed to patients, owners of brick-and-mortar drugstores certainly do. (National Public Radio)

Health statistics help shape local policies
Better access to health care data helps local governments improve preventive health policies aimed at reducing overall medical costs, say researchers who released the third annual national County Health Rankings today. In general, the study shows that excessive drinking rates are highest in the Northern states, while Southern states have the highest rates of teen births, sexually transmitted infections and children in poverty. Though there has been little change in the overall statistics nationwide, officials use the findings to try to improve local health. (USA Today)

IOM to CDC and HRSA: Bridge private and public health
The traditional separation between primary healthcare providers and public health professionals isn’t helping to ensure population health, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Integration of these fields will require national leadership as well as substantial adaptation at the local level, said authors of the report. The report recommends ways that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) could foster integration between primary care and public health through funding, policy levers, and other means. (Government Health IT)

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