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

Iowa News            

Democrats attempt last-minute Medicaid oversight bill
House Democrats attempted to pass a last-ditch effort to create oversight of the state’s Medicaid program, which is shifting to private management beginning Friday. Representative Lisa Heddens (D-Ames) offered an amendment to a bill that would have provided for “vigorous government oversight” of the three managed care organizations that have contracted with the state. (Des Moines Register)

Medicaid Privatization delays 9-year-old’s cancer treatment
Nine-year old Shaun Mohs of McGregor has a brain tumor. This is the second time he’s had a brain tumor. When he was two he was diagnosed, did chemo Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and beat it. In January, they discovered his cancer is back. The family traveled to the Mayo Clinic yesterday to get started, but when they got there doctors decided not to start chemo because Shaun is on Medicaid. Mayo and Iowa’s new private Medicaid providers have not reached a deal. (KCRG)

Broadlawns to reopen renovated behavioral health unit Thursday
Broadlawns Medical Center has completed extensive renovations to its inpatient behavioral health unit. The 30-bed unit will reopen later this week with enhanced patient rooms, treatment suites, group activity accommodations, clinical consultation spaces and visitor areas. The renovations are part of a multifaceted expansion of Broadlawns’ behavioral health facilities. (Business Record)

National News

States, plans get no flexibility under final mental health parity rule
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has finalized a rule that provides states and plans no flexibility in meeting requirements to provide Medicaid enrollees and children the same level of benefits for mental health or substance-abuse treatment that they provide for medical and surgical care. The final rule released Tuesday applies provisions of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 to managed care plans contracting with Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. (Modern Healthcare)

Hospitals respond to influx of children, adults with complex needs
More health care providers are creating special clinics to coordinate care for a patient population that increasingly includes children with complex medical conditions, according to The Wall Street Journal. These problems have given rise to the creation of complex-care clinics, according to the article. These clinics employ teams of doctors, nurses and social workers who address the full continuum of care and incorporate social factors such as social services and transportation. (Fierce Healthcare)

Non-emergencies in California clog local hospital ERs
According to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, 53 percent of emergency room (ER) visits made in the region between 2004 and 2014 were for non-emergencies. Crowding causes longer waits for patients, clogs up the works for first responders delivering patients to hospitals and results in extra costs for the health care system that are passed on to consumers in the form of higher insurance premiums. (San Diego Union Tribune)

Hospital cyberattack highlights health care vulnerabilities
A cyberattack that paralyzed the hospital chain MedStar this week is serving as a fresh reminder of vulnerabilities that exist in systems that protect sensitive patient information. Cyber criminals also have staged high-profile attacks in recent years against the federal government and retail chains, among many other targets. But security experts say health care companies make especially inviting targets for a number of reasons. (ABC News)

Move to electronic health records begins to transform health care
Many hospitals improvements stem from the wise use of electronic health records — computerized systems that are replacing paper charts in medical settings across the country. The transition has brought about a fair amount of grumbling from doctors about the systems’ complexity and sometimes clunky design. But the move away from paper records is plainly transforming the way health care is practiced. (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)

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

Iowa News            

A CRISP future for rural medicine
When Whitney Kaefring, of Solon, Iowa, decided she wanted to be a doctor, she was already pretty sure that she’d like to practice medicine in a small, rural Iowa community. So when the email arrived announcing the launch of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Rural Iowa Scholars Program (CRISP), she was thrilled. CRISP was created to help address the shortage of doctors practicing in rural Iowa—recent data from the American Medical Association places Iowa 43rd in the country in terms of access to direct-patient-care physicians. (Iowa Now)

Iowa lawmakers working on session-ending compromises
Legislative Democrats are cool to GOP ideas of taking money from other parts of the state’s general fund or infrastructure budgets to finance expanded efforts to improve Iowa’s water quality, a top Iowa Senate leader said Tuesday. Senator Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) said key legislators were “working through” a host of budget decisions this week and hoped to agree on details of a fiscal 2017 state spending plan “relatively quickly,” telling reporters “we would like to adjourn on time.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Shenandoah hospital expansion progresses
Cooperative weather conditions are spurring construction of phase one of Shenandoah Medical Center’s (SMC’s) expansion and renovation project. Hospital officials report that construction of a new front entrance and medical office building is on target for completion at the end of this year. Karen Cole is SMC’s president and CEO. Cole tells KMA News construction crews recently accomplished some major milestones. (KMAland)

National News

At session, no skirting managed care in Arkansas
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s plans for next week’s special legislative session on Medicaid exclude consideration of a proposal supported by opponents of managed care, a spokesman said Tuesday. The governor’s agenda for the special session that begins April 6 will include a bill calling on the state to hire managed-care companies to provide care for the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill, as well as a bill to make changes in the state’s expanded Medicaid program through an initiative called Arkansas Works. (Arkansas Online)

Oklahoma Medicaid agency announces 25 percent provider cuts
A state agency announced Tuesday that it is cutting reimbursement rates paid to more than 46,000 Medicaid providers by 25 percent – an amount that the head of the Oklahoma Hospital Association said will have a “market changing” effect on health care in the state. Craig Jones, the president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, which represents more than 135 hospitals and health care systems across the state, said the cuts will be devastating to the health care of Oklahoma’s poorest citizens. (KOCO)

Henry Ford Health licenses hundreds of their hospital food recipes overseas in wellness push
Henry Ford Health System set off on this renewed path to wellness more than ten years ago, when they overhauled their hospital food. Now, Henry Ford Health System has licensed hundreds of its hospital food recipes in India’s New Dehli National Capital Region (NCR), the system announced late last week. The NCR is the country’s largest urban center, and the move is part a larger health and wellness effort. (Healthcare Finance)

Telemedicine and alternative payment models: An apt fit
With 30 percent of Medicare payments now tied to alternative payment models, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services planning to raise that percentage to 50 percent by the end of 2018, providers are looking for ways to increase quality of care and patient access while holding down costs. One mode that stands to gain is telemedicine, which got a boost in last year’s Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). MACRA essentially allows doctors to utilize telemedicine and remote patient monitoring services where appropriate. (Healthcare Dive)

Supreme Court decision a win for unions at many hospitals
Public employees unions may continue to charge dues to non-members who benefit from their collective bargaining activities following a Supreme Court decision Tuesday. The case involved teachers’ unions, but the decision has implications for many hospitals and their employees as well. More than 21 percent of U.S. hospitals are owned by federal, state or local governments, according to the American Hospital Association. The National Federation of Nurses said the decision protects nurses and health care workers who advocate for their own rights and those of their patients and communities. (Modern Healthcare)

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

Iowa News            

BVRMC on pace to open new addition in late summer
Buena Vista Regional Medical Center (BVRMC) remains on schedule to move into its new two story addition sometime late this summer. The second floor, medical-surgical and obstetrics are the departments closest to completion. Dry wall is all hung, first coats of paint are done and cabinets are being installed. The stone wall by the nursery has started along with other decorative details on the second floor. (Storm Lake Pilot Tribune)

Sandi Fowler talks Blue Zones
Sandi Fowler is the assistant city manager in Cedar Rapids. The city has changed its role to a much more hands-on role (after becoming a certified Blue Zones community). Fowler’s specific role is to serve as staff liaison to the well-being advisory committee. She makes sure the appropriate staff are in place to support the work of the committee. Cedar Rapids is the largest city to ever become a Blue Zones certified community (in Iowa). Marion, about 30,000 to our 130,000 (residents), was able to do it in a little over a year and half or so. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Dick Davidson, AHA president emeritus, dies at 79
Dick Davidson, the American Hospital Association’s (AHA’s) president emeritus, died yesterday at age 79. Davidson had retired on January 1, 2007, after serving 16 years in the AHA’s top leadership role, and was the second longest-serving president in the association’s 118-year history. Rick Pollack, current AHA CEO and president, remembers Davidson as “an innovative and visionary leader, a consensus builder, and a friend and mentor to many throughout our field.” (Hospitals & Health News Network)

A crisis rages, New Jersey hospital works to reduce opioids in the ER
To combat what health professionals say is a nationwide epidemic, Mark Rosenberg’s hospital, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, has been using opioid alternative protocols in its emergency room since January. The goal of the Alternatives to Opiates program is to try to treat most patients without opioids before considering using them. In the first two months, 75 percent of the 300 patients that have gone through the program did not need opioids. (Associated Press/ABC News)

Health care a growing economic sector in Southern Nevada
During the Great Recession, people still got sick, had surgeries, experienced accidents and had babies. But with record unemployment, many Las Vegans — without health insurance or other means to pay for services — ended up in emergency rooms. Recovery from the recession, a future medical school, increased numbers of insured, hospital expansion and a fundamental shift in the health care delivery system have all created more job opportunities in health care. (Las Vegas Review Journal)

After failing again, Insure Tennessee’s success up to voters
Three years ago, the Tennessee General Assembly insured that the governor could not accept expanded federal funding for Medicaid under provisions of the Affordable Care Act without getting its approval. While citizen, religious and hospital groups have continued to pressure the legislature to reconsider, the 2016 session will end without considering a plan to provide insurance to more than 200,000 working poor in Tennessee. (Tennessean)

Officials emphasize drug treatment, mental health in Medicaid push
In its latest effort to get more states to states to expand their Medicaid programs, health officials are emphasizing its role in paying for treatment of opioid abuse and mental health issues. “Today’s report shows that Medicaid expansion is an important step states can take to address behavioral health needs, including serious mental illness and opioid and other substance use disorders,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. (Wall Street Journal)

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(From time to time, the blog features recipients of the IHA Iowa Hospital Heroes Award. These outstanding hospital employees come from across the state and work at hospitals of every size. They exemplify the courage, caring and community focus that are the hallmarks of the hospital mission in Iowa.)

Cogley portraitDr. Patrick Cogley has devoted 14 years of his career helping those needing medical care in Grinnell and the surrounding area. Dr. Cogley is the acting director of Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s (GRMC’s) emergency department. Not only is Dr. Cogley a thoughtful medical provider, he also supports the community and the hospital. In the community, his caring approach is seen when he volunteers at school events, leads efforts for the auxiliary’s annual Tag Day and through donations to the local food pantry.

At GRMC, Dr. Cogley’s impact is immense. He and Jennifer, his wife, have made significant contributions of time and money to the hospital over the past 14 years. What stands out about him is how he constantly and quietly makes a difference, especially in the lives of some of the community’s most vulnerable residents.

In 2013, the Poweshiek County Mental Health Center closed after providing services to county residents for more than 40 years. To fill the void and ensure people had access, Dr. Cogley volunteered to see those clients until another mental health service opened several months later.

In January 2014, Dr. Cogley led the efforts to care for an automobile accident victim, who turned out to be a friend and coworker, a nurse in GRMC’s emergency department. Thanks to Dr. Cogley and the team in the emergency department that night, the young woman survived extensive, life-threatening injuries sustained from being ejected from the vehicle, which then rolled over her.

On Christmas Eve 2014, Dr. Cogley secured a room for an elderly patient who was in a lot of pain, even though GRMC was on diversion, so she could be close to family for the holiday. This was one of three times Dr. Cogley went above and beyond for the members of this patient’s family at critical life junctures.

A rural emergency department is a unique setting where the physician in charge has to be able to do it all. Dr. Cogley possesses the skill set to expertly treat a technical injury in one moment and the bedside manner to hold an elderly patient’s hand in the next. His unwavering service to GRMC makes him an Iowa Hospital Hero.

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

Iowa News            

Officials cautious on Medicaid switch
Iowa’s new Medicaid managed care program, IA Health Link, is set to be implemented April 1, but the impact on patients and providers remains to be seen. Companies the state has contracted with to cover the state’s 560,000 Medicaid recipients are UnitedHealthcare Plan of the River Valley Inc., AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa Inc. and Amerigroup Iowa Inc. In a visit to the Capitol on March 17, Marie Knedler, CEO of CHI Health Mercy Hospital told legislators IA Health Link needs tough oversight. (Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil)

Medical helicopter now stationed in Dubuque
An air ambulance capable of providing life-saving transportation now is stationed just outside of Mercy Medical Center-Dubuque. Chris Lange, who will serve as a flight nurse on the helicopter, said Friday marked the first day the helicopter was available for use by Mercy. The aircraft, named AirCare 3, will be used to transport critically ill patients at Mercy to receive specialized care at other medical facilities, including University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

Allen Hospital adds surgical robot
UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital is the first hospital in the Cedar Valley to acquire the most advanced robotic surgical system. The da Vinci Xi was recently installed in the operating room at Allen Hospital. This is the fourth-generation da Vinci robot, which has improved reach inside the body and provides surgeons an extended range of motion. Allen Hospital performs more robotic surgeries than any other facility in Northeast Iowa. (Cedar Valley Business Monthly)

St. Luke’s, Mercy provide $324M to local economy
The two hospital systems in Sioux City combined to contribute $324 million to the local economy last year, according to a new study. The Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) study pegged Mercy Medical Center’s total economic impact at $186 million, and UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s at $138 million. The IHA study examined the jobs, income, retail sales and sales tax produced by hospitals and the rest of Iowa’s health care sector. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Georgia’s Legislature OKs tax credits for donations to rural health care
The General Assembly passed a bill that would allow an individual or corporation to get a state tax credit for donating money to a rural health care organization. The legislation will help many rural hospitals, said Jimmy Lewis, CEO of HomeTown Health, an association of rural hospitals in the state. “This is a monumental turn in the life of rural health care.” Georgia’s rural hospitals are struggling to keep their doors open due to some steep challenges, including a large percentage of patients who are likely to be unemployed, insufficiently insured or not insured at all. (Georgia Health News)

Study heralds Medicaid expansion benefits as rural Tennessee hospital closes
States that expanded Medicaid programs using federal funding are reaping economic benefits, a new study finds as the long-running health care debate rages anew in Tennessee’s legislature. Rural hospitals around the state are struggling to keep doors open amid big changes in the number of patients who seek in-patient care, Medicare reimbursements and increases in technology costs. Rural and community hospitals, in addition to provider groups, had looked at Insure Tennessee as a bright spot on what is frequently a bleak horizon. (Tennessean)

Hospitals in rural Wisconsin begin to focus on overall health
Rural counties in Wisconsin have higher rates of premature death overall than urban counties, according to a report which draws attention to the myriad influences on the overall health of a community. The report also makes plain that social determinants can matter more than the care provided by doctors and hospitals. Some health systems are beginning to focus on the overall health of their communities and not just on treating people when they are sick. The result has been a sharp decline in emergency room visits and hospitalizations. (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)

How a health care revolution came to one red state while the Obamacare battle raged on
A comprehensive approach to patients hasn’t always been the rule in American health care. Across the country, far from the vitriolic debate over Obamacare, it is driving a quiet revolution that is changing how doctors replace knees, communicate with patients, prescribe drugs, even deliver babies. Few places have embraced this revolution more fully than Arkansas, which embarked on one of the most sweeping efforts in the nation to improve health care quality and control costs. (Los Angeles Times)

Community paramedicine can add followups to EMS service
Emergency medical services (EMS) programs across the country are studying ways to get medical services to the people who need them, and community paramedicine is a program getting a lot of attention. Community paramedicine is an emerging practice nationwide. Depending on the program, paramedics move beyond emergency medical intervention and can provide medical services while out in the community. (

Federal officials, advocates push pill-tracking databases
The nation’s top health officials are stepping up calls to require doctors to log in to pill-tracking databases before prescribing painkillers and other high-risk drugs. The move is part of a multi-pronged strategy by the Obama administration to tame an epidemic of abuse and death tied to opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin. But physician groups see the proposed requirement to check the databases as overly burdensome, another time-consuming task that takes away from patient care. (Associated Press)

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