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

Iowa News

Grassley town hall sparks debate on hospital funding
On Tuesday, Keokuk Area Hospital CEO Wally Winkler sounded off to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley about missed Medicare and Medicaid payments. He said the hospital will have to close if the lack of payment continues. Grassley made the rounds across the state today for multiple town hall meetings. When he got to Donnellson, the fight to keep rural hospitals afloat dominated the conversation. Winkler came to the town hall meeting with grave concerns about the future of his hospital. He said unbalanced Medicare and Medicaid payments could force his hospital to shut down if they don’t get help from politicians like Grassley. (WGEM)

Public warned of whooping cough threat
Clarinda Regional Health Center (CRHC) is urging the public to get vaccinated to prevent Whooping Cough – or pertussis – as cases of whooping cough continue to rise across Iowa. Dr. Autumn Morales, CRHC pediatrician, is paying close attention to the increase in whooping cough cases in Iowa.  “Cases of whooping cough are cropping up all over the state.  I know what a cruel and potentially deadly disease this can be, especially for young children.  I’d prefer we get out in front of this disease in our area and do what we can to protect our children and ourselves.” (Clarinda Herald-Journal)

Helping mothers provide healthy start for newborns
Because her daughter Rylan arrived seven weeks early, Kate Armbruster used a breast pump to stimulate her milk supply and collect the precious colostrum in a syringe. At the very least, she wanted her daughter to have that. Between tube feeding and nursing/pumping, Rylan has since gained nearly a pound, weighing five pounds, 9.2 ounces last week. “With her being a preemie, it’s even more important to me that she gets breast milk,” said Armbruster, whose four-week old daughter is a patient in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Blank Children’s Hospital. (Des Moines Register)

New reading program for children available at Carroll hospital
St Anthony Regional Hospital’s Family Care Physicians became the 90th “Reach Out and Read” program in Iowa on Tuesday.  The new program, which is connected to a national evidence-based school readiness program, will help kids ages six months to five years.  Dr. Tina Hahn was instrumental in bringing the program to St. Anthony explains the benefits for area kids. (KCIM)

National News

Health professionals look inward to tackle obesity
At the University of Maryland Medical Center, staff are promoting a “Step Up to Good Health” program that includes promoting regular walks and “biggest loser” contests, making it easier for staff to bike to work, and encouraging staff to visit a Tuesday farmer’s market outside the hospital for fresh fruit and vegetables, said Christine Byerly, a registered nurse there. A study the Hopkins students cited as a foundation for the Patient Promise shows the value of such behaviors benefits more than medical staff. The research found that physicians were more likely to initiate a weight loss conversation with a patient if the physician weighed no more, or less, than the patient. (Baltimore Sun)

Health care costs to increase 7% for large employers
Large employers expect their health insurance costs will increase 7 percent next year, according to a survey conducted by the National Business Group on Health. “Rising health care costs continue to plague employers at an alarming rate,” said Helen Darling, the association’s president and CEO. “Although cost increases have stabilized somewhat, they are still on a higher base from last year and are simply not sustainable, especially when our nation’s economy and workers’ wages are virtually flat and everybody is struggling.” (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

Gaps in maternity coverage for some women could grow under health law
There’s been a lot of controversy over the health care overhaul’s requirement that most health plans this month to start covering contraceptive services for women as a free preventive benefit. But that requirement may prevent some young women from falling into a coverage gap of a different kind: no maternity coverage. Individual health insurance policies have long been criticized by women’s health advocates for their frequent failure to cover maternity benefits for women. According to a recent report by the National Women’s Law Center, only 12 percent of plans in the individual market provide maternity coverage. (National Public Radio)

Pfizer pays $60M to settle bribing allegations
Pfizer has agreed to pay the federal government $60 million to settle allegations that its employees bribed doctors and other foreign officials in Europe and Asia to win business and boost sales. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that Pfizer’s overseas subsidiaries made illegal payments to health care workers in China, Italy, Russia, Croatia and other Eastern European countries. As early as 2001, Pfizer sales representatives tried to conceal the bribes by recording them as legitimate business expenses for travel, entertainment and marketing purposes, the agency said. (Washington Post)

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