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

Iowa News

Hospitals get healthy rating
“HCAHPS scores emphasize how important it is for hospitals to keep patients informed and comfortable,” said Jim Waterbury, spokesman for Allen Hospital in Waterloo.  “Providing exceptional care is about developing relationships with patients and their families and seeing the care we provide through their eyes,” said Nancy Weber, vice president of mission integration and chief nursing officer at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-Iowa. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Great River Medical Center plans $10M rehab project
Great River Health Systems will begin construction next month on a 40,000-square-foot expansion of the Center for Rehab and Clinics. The project is estimated to cost $10 million and is scheduled to be completed by September 2013. “With health-care reform and accountable-care organizations beginning to affect Iowa, access to care is going to become crucial,” Great River Health Systems CEO Mark Richardson said. “The rehabilitation center expansion and new orthopedic offices will allow us to remain competitive and continue our development of outstanding orthopedic and rehabilitation services.” (Burlington Hawk Eye)

Kids escape fire simulator
It’s a drill you don’t see every day. Kids being thrown into a burning building, but don’t worry, the flames and smoke weren’t real. But they did act as a pretty good teaching tool.  Responsible parents spend a lot of time teaching their kids what to do in case of a fire. Saturday metro kids got the chance to put those skills in action. State Farm hosted Blank Children’s Hospital’s Fire Safety House. (WOI)

Putting a face on organ donations
Michael Kutcher and Beckham Scadlock have more in common than just being Iowans. They are living proof that heart transplants save lives. Beckham is only four years old. Shortly after Beckham was born, doctors realized his heart wasn’t pumping blood properly. “The doctors said, ‘I don’t think your son’s going to make it through the night,” said Nate Scadlock, Beckham’s dad. “As you can see, it all turned out well.” (Muscatine Journal)

Dozens of DHS staff cuts loom
Iowa’s Department of Human Services could face staff cuts in coming months due to lower-than-requested state appropriations and a looming raise for workers. DHS Director Charles Palmer alluded to the possibility in a June 1 memo to employees, but has pledged to minimize layoffs as much as possible by relying on attrition and retirements. The final analysis on how many cuts will be necessary, what offices will be affected and when is still under way, department spokesman Roger Munns said. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Pressure lingers, rises for hospitals
The U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps as early as Monday, will rule on whether the Obama administration’s initiative to overhaul the nation’s health care system is constitutional, in whole or in part. But make no mistake — regardless of what the justices decide, or whether the mandate requiring everyone to buy health insurance stands — health care is already being changed in significant and irreversible ways. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Maryland’s hospital rating system in danger of failing
For 35 years, Maryland has enjoyed a unique exemption from the federal government that allowed it to regulate hospital rates so that patients are charged the same no matter where they seek care. But the system that state health officials say has created an egalitarian way of charging for health care now faces an unprecedented challenge. The state has come dangerously close to failing a test it must meet every three months to keep the exemption, under which the federal government gives Maryland larger Medicare payments than other states. (Baltimore Sun)

A steady dose of empathy
As payers start to factor patient satisfaction into their reimbursement rates, health care organizations are linking patient satisfaction with physician pay. Hay Group’s 2011 Physician Compensation Survey revealed that more than 60 percent of health care organizations now are incorporating patient satisfaction scores when calculating physician incentive payments. So hospitals and physicians alike face a critical question: How can we improve patient satisfaction? (Hospitals & Health Networks)

Weak anti-fraud programs lead to $43B Medicare, $21.9B Medicaid overpayments
In 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimated that it issued nearly $43 billion in Medicare overpayments and $21.9 billion Medicaid overpayments, as some of the most expensive and highest-risk programs on GAO’s watch list, according to a GAO summary yesterday. GAO noted that the two programs have different challenges. For example, Medicaid runs 51 distinct state-based programs. The two agencies, however, stressed that CMS must oversee their efforts to control costs. (Fierce Healthcare)

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