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

Iowa News

DHS claims Medicaid privatization will save $118 Million
Chuck Palmer, director of the state Department of Human Services (DHS), said Tuesday his agency projects the state’s savings from switching its Medicaid system to privately managed care will be $118.7 million for the current fiscal year. DHS director told Governor Terry Branstad the savings are one way his agency is helping to meet the governor’s goal of reducing the size and cost of state government. According to DHS calculations, the state would have spent over $1.716 billion in fiscal 2016 had it not switched to Medicaid “modernization” versus the nearly $1.694 billion in state medical assistance expenditures. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

Too soon to tell what would happen in Iowa with health care law repeal, state officials say
How would Iowans who have purchased health insurance through state or federal programs be impacted if Republican lawmakers and President-elect Donald Trump fulfill their campaign promise to repeal the federal health care law known as the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare? It is too soon to know, top state officials say. Roughly 145,000 Iowans participate in the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, according to the state, and 55,000 Iowans purchased health insurance through the federal health care program, according to federal statistics. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Iowa insurance commissioner outlines potential effects of repealing Obamacare
One of the first things Donald Trump says he’ll do as president is repeal the Affordable Care Act. That’s made a lot of people nervous about what might come next, including some Republicans who aren’t keen on Obamacare. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart is one of them. In an interview with NPR, Gerhart talks about the potential effects of repealing the ACA would have for Iowans and people across the country. (NPR)

A sweet Homecoming for Le Mars Nurse
After more than 20 years away from her hometown, a familiar face has returned to the halls of Floyd Valley Healthcare (FVH). Lorrie Mortensen, RN, BS, MSN, MBA, has returned to FVH as the Director of Patient Care. In her position, she will be in a senior management position overseeing the nursing care services at FVH. Her first position was with Floyd Valley Hospital from 1978-1983 as a staff nurse. She then spent three years with Medical Associates as a clinic nurse and returned to Floyd Valley from 1986-1995 as a nursing supervisor. “Home is a great place to be,” Mortensen said about returning to FVH. (Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

National News

In depressed rural Kentucky, worries grow over Medicaid
Kentucky’s enrollment has doubled since late 2013 when Medicaid was expanded. Kentucky’s achievement owed much to the success of its state-run health insurance exchange, Kynect, in promoting new coverage options under the health law. Kynect was launched under Governor Matt Bevin’s Democratic predecessor, Steve Beshear, and dismantled by Bevin this year. Bevin has threatened to roll back the expansion if the Obama administration doesn’t allow him to make major changes. Those would force Kentucky’s beneficiaries to pay monthly premiums of $1 to $37.50 and require non-disabled recipients to work or do community service for free dental and vision care. (Kaiser Health News)

KanCare renewal efforts slow in anticipation of federal changes
Anticipating significant changes in federal health care policy, Kansas officials are slowing their timeline for renewing KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. Given the lack of clarity at the federal level, Mike Randol, director of the Division of Health Care Finance in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told members of the Legislature’s KanCare oversight committee on Friday that the agency intends to slow the KanCare renewal process. A request for proposals that had been scheduled to go to managed care companies before the end of the year is being delayed indefinitely, he said. (Kansas Health Institute)

California braces for Medi-Cal’s future under Trump and the GOP
California grabbed the first opportunity to expand Medicaid and ran with it, helping cut the number of uninsured people in half in a few short years. Thanks in part to billions of dollars in federal funding, a third of California’s residents — including half its children — are insured by Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid. Now, with the election of Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, the state that bet so heavily on the Medicaid expansion is bracing to see how much of its work will be undone. While no one knows yet exactly what will happen, many policymakers and advocates fear the federal government will end or severely limit funding for the expansion. (Kaiser Health News)

Trump’s win puts Medicaid expansion on hold in red states
Several states led by Republican governors appear to be putting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act on hold given talk by the incoming administration of Donald Trump to scrap the law or move to federal block grants to cover poor Americans. State elected officials in Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota and political pundits in Georgia are saying talk of expanding Medicaid before the election has now subsided at least for the 2017 legislative sessions. That means more than 500,000 Americans will have to wait for health benefits. (Forbes)

Giving patients an active role in their health care
As payment and care delivery models shift in the US from episodic, fee-for-service care toward population health and value-based reimbursement, health care leaders are focused more than ever on patient engagement as a key to driving down costs and improving outcomes. What’s needed is a fundamental redesign of the patient’s role — from that of a passive recipient of care to an active participant charged with defined responsibilities, equipped to dispatch them and accountable for the results. In other words, to view the patient’s role as a job and then design that job in such a way as to drive the best health outcomes possible. (Harvard Business Review)

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