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

Iowa News

Medicaid management firms continue to lose millions
The three for-profit companies managing Iowa’s Medicaid program continue to lose tens of millions of dollars on the project, a report released Wednesday shows. The companies, Amerigroup, AmeriHealth Caritas and UnitedHealthcare, reported losses ranging from 18 percent to 25 percent for the three months ending in September. The firms took over management of Iowa’s $4 billion Medicaid program last year in a controversial shift ordered by Governor Terry Branstad. The governor continued to tout the project in a news release accompanying the quarterly report from his Department of Human Services. (Des Moines Register)

More urgent care centers open in Eastern Iowa
In a world where people love getting things instantly, it seems the health care field is trying to fill that need. The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine says that is one of the reasons driving the growth in urgent care centers across the nation. Eastern Iowa is not immune to this growth. On Wednesday, Unity Point Allen Hospital opened an urgent care center in Cedar Falls. Unity Point – Finley will open an urgent care clinic in Dubuque next week. Unity Point – Finley Hospital President David Brandon says goal is to give more people an alternative to going to the emergency room, if they don’t really need to. (KCRG)

United Way of Central Iowa receives largest grant to train workers in health care skills
The 100-year-old United Way of Central Iowa has received its largest grant, $2.2 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to train 380 Central Iowans in health care skills. The four-year grant will double the capacity of Central Iowa Works to serve individuals with barriers to education and employment. United Way’s award was part of $111 million in America’s Promise grants made to 23 regional workforce partnerships. The projects connect more than 21,000 Americans to education and fields that need more workers. (Des Moines Business Record)

Iowa Obamacare sign-ups run a bit higher this fall
President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to repeal Obamacare has not dampened Iowa applications for subsidized health insurance. Slightly more Iowans are signing up for such coverage this fall than did at this point last year. Federal officials said Wednesday that 12,099 Iowans had signed up for new or renewed policies via the Affordable Care Act exchange since the annual enrollment period opened November 1. That’s compared to 11,811 during the first four weeks of November 2015. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Rhode Island gets $129M to ‘reinvent’ Medicaid
The state of Rhode Island will receive federal funding up to $129.7 million to update how it operates its Medicaid program and to bolster its health care workforce training, Governor Gina Raimondo announced Monday. The state has framed the effort as “Reinventing Medicaid 2.0,” its second stage in transforming the health care program. Rhode Island’s focus on Medicaid improvement comes just as the incoming Republican administration plans to up-end the Affordable Care Act, so the overhaul will therefore have to proceed amid some uncertainty. (Healthcare Dive)

California State University students lead outdoor exercise in low-income areas
California State University students are instructing a free exercise program offered at parks in various California counties. The program, 3WINS Fitness, helps people get moving — and meet the federally recommended exercise requirements — without having to pay for expensive fitness club memberships Free park-based programs like 3WINS help increase physical activity among low-income residents and can prevent or lessen the impact of chronic diseases, according to Deborah Cohen, senior scientist at the RAND Corporation who conducted an evaluation of the program in 2015. (Kaiser Health News)

AHA says new laws under Trump administration could help struggling hospitals
Could bundled payments be the key to keeping struggling hospitals healthy? The American Hospital Association (AHA) seems to think so and it’s planning on lobbying for several legislative changes including loosening anti-kickback laws to allow financial agreements between hospitals and other healthcare providers. The organization suggests that adopting bundled payments for individual episodes of treatment could encourage hospitals to contain growth and concentrate resources on services that improve quality and lower costs. (Modern Healthcare)

Only about 1 in 4 wants Trump to repeal health law
A new poll has found that only about one in four Americans wants President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor’s health care law that extended coverage to millions. The post-election survey released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation also found hints of a pragmatic shift among some Republican foes of “Obamacare.” While 52 percent of Republicans say they want the law completely repealed, that is down from 69 percent just last month, before the election. And more Republicans now say they want the law “scaled back.” (Associated Press/Washington Post)

From drug research to cancer moonshot, Congress preps massive health care bill
With Republicans just weeks away from possibly repealing the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature domestic policy program, it may seem like an odd time to look for bipartisan unity on legislation related to health care. Nevertheless, Congress appears to be ready to pass a major bill funding medical research and overhauling the approval process for new drugs and medical devices. The 21st Century Cures Act, which spans 25 separate sections touching on subjects as diverse as drug research and foster care, runs to nearly 1,000 pages. (Fiscal Times)

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