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

Iowa News

Branstad is firm on opposing idea to grow Medicaid
The Republican governor has long raised doubts about President Barack Obama’s plan to expand Medicaid, which now generally doesn’t cover poor adults who lack minor children or serious disabilities. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the federal government can’t force states to accept such people into the joint federal and state program. Branstad says he doesn’t believe the federal government has the resources to expand Medicaid. (Des Moines Register)

Mental health re-design creates uncertainty for area providers
With Iowa’s $1.3 billion in mental health services programs slated to undergo major changes in the coming year, some local mental health providers are facing a level of uncertainty regarding the future of area programs. State legislators have proposed streamlined programs and administration for all 99 counties, with some tenets now in effect as of Sunday. (Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune)

Counties take regional approach to mental health, disabilities
A consortium of counties in northeast and north-central Iowa are already well down the road to meeting the needs of residents with mental disabilities, as the rest of the state begins to consolidate services into a regional delivery system. “I think it puts us in a very good position,” said Bob Lincoln, a Floyd County official who has been involved with a multicounty approach to mental-health service delivery. (North Iowa Today/Cedar Rapids Gazette)

County’s arrogance could hurt those in need
A recent story highlights a consortium of counties in northeast and north-central Iowa working together to comply with a new law that redesigns Iowa’s county-based mental health system. It’s a system officials in those counties believe puts them “in a very good position.” Yet, when contacted by the Journal late last week, Woodbury County Social Services Director Patty Erickson Puttmann wanted no part of such a model.  Maybe a consortium won’t ultimately work, but should we dismiss it so easily? (Sioux City Journal)

Genesis, Mercy-Clinton announce partnership
Genesis Health System and Mercy Medical Center, Clinton, announced a partnership to provide increased access to primary care doctors for residents of the greater Clinton area. The newly formed Mercy Medical Group will provide residents of Clinton County in Iowa and Whiteside and Carroll counties in Illinois with an expanded network of physicians and health-care professionals. (Quad-City Times)

National News

Poll shows Americans want battles over health care law to stop
Fifty-six percent of Americans believe opponents of the law should “stop trying to block its implementation and instead move on to other national problems,” according to the poll by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. By contrast, just 38 percent said those opposed to the Affordable Care Act should “continue trying to block the law from being implemented.” The survey of 1,239 adults—conducted over three days following the Supreme Court’s historic decision last Thursday—did not pick up major changes in Americans’ overall view of the sweeping legislation that Obama signed in 2010. (Los Angeles Times)

More legal challenges to ACA on way
The Supreme Court lawsuit isn’t the end of the legal challenges to the health care law — and the next ones just might help Republicans keep pushing their favorite political hot buttons. The next wave of lawsuits likely wouldn’t put the whole law at stake, as the challenge to the individual mandate could have. But they’re going after pieces of the law that happen to be red meat for many conservative voters — like the law’s contraception mandate and a new Medicare panel that Republicans call a “rationing board.” (Politico)

Consumer Reports rates hospital safety
The spotlight on hospital-caused patient harm has become a bit brighter with the launch of Consumer Reports’ hospital safety ratings, which uses several different measures than the Leapfrog Group’s recent and controversial hospital letter grades, and reaches opposite conclusions about many facilities. The CU rating system, featured in the magazine’s August issue, rates hospitals in six categories. (HealthLeaders Media)

Why health spending trend matters
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared President Barack Obama’s health-care initiative constitutional, the next health policy move awaits the outcome of the November elections. But the U.S. health-care system isn’t waiting. It continues to evolve, sometimes in unanticipated ways. Here’s one: For the past couple of years, U.S. health-care spending has been growing at a surprisingly slow pace. (Wall Street Journal)

Should we expand imperfect treatments, or create new ones?
We will need to ask ourselves whether medicine—both clinical practice and scientific research—should focus on the development of novel treatments or instead on ensuring that existing treatments are effectively used. Health should be thought of as a function of two attributes: potential health—a matter of identifying the best medical outcome available—and attained health, or how close we come to achieving this goal. When advocates of attained health survey the landscape, they see an appalling misallocation of resources. They see a lot of money being used—in both research and practice—to produce what are often only slight advances at best in potential health. (The Atlantic)

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