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

Iowa News

Branstad’s Medicaid is not working for Iowa
Since Governor Terry Branstad handed over the state health insurance program to private managed care companies on April 1, Iowans say they cannot visit their regular doctors or obtain prescriptions. They spend hours on the phone trying to obtain approvals for care and answers. Or they find out their new for-profit Medicaid insurer will not pay the bills for emergency care. And not being paid for services is a recurring theme in the stories told by health workers the past seven months. (Des Moines Register)

State’s first emergency department for troubled pregnancies
Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines is opening the state’s first obstetrics emergency department. It will be staffed around-the-clock by OB-GYN doctors. Mercy and other hospitals across the state have long made nurses available to evaluate emergency cases among pregnant women. They would work in consultation with the patient’s personal physician, who was often not on-site. Now, maternity patients who are past 14-weeks of pregnancy and experiencing difficulties will be seen within 30-minutes of arrival at Mercy by a doctor. An internal fetal medicine specialist at the hospital, Jona Conklin, says this should relieve some stress. (Iowa Public Radio)

Medical spa will be part of new Mason City urgent care clinic
A Cedar Falls couple hopes to open a new urgent care clinic in Mason City in the spring. Dr. Hameed Khan, a physician practicing in Waterloo, and his wife, Husna Khan, recently bought a former Iowa Department of Transportation administration building with plans to turn it into the Quick Care Medical Clinic. The clinic, which will be open seven days a week, will include the usual urgent care services for injuries and illnesses that need immediate attention but are not severe enough to require an emergency room visit. Also included will be a medical spa with a separate entrance and waiting area. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

Committee takes shape to find new University of Iowa Health Care leader
The University of Iowa (UI) this week identified 17 search committee members charged with finding a replacement for Jean Robillard, who in September announced plans to step down from his role as vice president for medical affairs and medical college dean. The next leader is to take over the $1.9 billion UI Health Care enterprise and the university’s Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, which is home to specialized care and research centers like the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Hospital gives city kudos
Hospital turnaround expert Duane Fitch recognized the Keokuk City Council at its last meeting as “the single county group” to give unanimous support to Keokuk Area Hospital in its time of need. Because of the city’s assistance and funds from the county and state, the hospital had the time to find and enter into an affiliation with UnityPoint Health, one of the largest nonprofit and nondenominational health systems in the country, he said. “We’ll be closing the transaction by the end of the year, and then be in transition,” Fitch said recently. “We’re thrilled to announce a permanent solution.” (Keokuk Gate City Daily)

National News

Frustrations with KanCare keep growing
When it comes to KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid system, frustrations seem nowhere close to going away. Those frustrations were echoed Thursday by health care providers during a legislative KanCare oversight meeting in Topeka. And they were further bolstered by a report commissioned by three health care groups that criticizes KanCare for not living up to earlier promises, a critique Governor Sam Brownback’s administration dismissed in an emailed statement. (Kansas City Star)

Louisiana budget deficit: Medicaid providers likely to be affected
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will be proposing that higher education be cut by $18 million and the state delay Medicaid payments again to health care providers to deal with the state’s $315 million midyear budget deficit. The bulk of the $315 million midyear budget deficit will be dealt with by pushing off $152 million worth of financial payments to Medicaid providers into the next year. This is the second year in a row these Medicaid payments have been delayed to deal with a midyear budget deficit. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Minnesota task force takes aim at delays in mental health care system
A state mental health task force has issued nine recommendations aimed at relieving the bottlenecks that delay Minnesotans from getting care. The panel, appointed by Governor Mark Dayton, focused on closing well-known pinch points that make it difficult to get timely mental health treatment or leave people languishing in hospitals and jail cells. The task force urged a more comprehensive approach to treatment that includes early intervention, home visits from a mobile crisis team, and better insurance coverage for transitional services in the community. (Minnesota Public Radio)

Police not adequately trained on mental health
Many police departments lack adequate training to show cops how to deal safely and effectively with someone experiencing a mental health crisis. In the U.S., a few departments have tried to overcome this problem by utilizing a version of the Memphis Model, in which specific officers receive intensive training and are dispatched regularly to calls involving a mental health crisis. Some police departments in Great Britain went further with Street Triage, a pilot program tested as far back as 2013 that put nurse practitioners in police cars to help respond to calls that involved a mental health crisis. (USA Today)

ACA market enrollment hits 1M in midst of repeal threat
The first two weeks of open enrollment for the HealthCare.gov platform resulted in more than a million plan selections. The enrollment surge on November 9 coincided with additional federal outreach but it was also the day after the presidential election, when the nation learned that Donald Trump had clinched the win and could pursue his election promise to repeal Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It’s unclear how that may have factored in to the stats, or how it may continue to factor into enrollment as the development continues through Trump’s January 20 inauguration. (Healthcare Dive)

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