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

Iowa News

Iowa Medicaid insurers call millions in losses ‘start-up costs’
Two of the three private companies now managing Iowa’s Medicaid system each recorded more than $100 million in net losses in the first nine months of this year. The figures come from financial data they filed with the state. From January to September, AmeriHealth Caritas had a net loss of more than $132 million. Amerigroup, even worse, $147 million. UnitedHealthcare reports didn’t show Iowa figures, but the company told lawmakers it too had been losing money in the state, during a summer meeting. Announcement of the losses comes about a month after Branstad said the state would be paying an additional $33 million to the managed care organizations, due in part to higher prescription drug costs. (KCRG)

Conference brings opioid abuse to forefront
Community leaders and citizens flooded the Tuscany Events Center at Rastrelli’s Restaurant on Thursday to address an issue that is plaguing Clinton County and the nation: Opioid abuse. Opioids, most commonly taken in the form of prescription pain-killing drugs, have taken over the lives of countless Americans. A panel consisting of Woolery, Clinton Police Chief Kevin Gyrion, Mercy Medical Center CEO Sean Williams, Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf and Medical Associates CAO Jay Collier addressed the issue with forum attendees Thursday morning. Thursday’s meeting aimed to produce ideas on how to slow or stop the rate of opioid abuse in the Gateway area. (Clinton Herald)

National News

Wisconsin partnerships in health care could help heal rural, urban discontent
The simmering frustration from in both rural and urban areas has boiled over. This turbulence conveys an urgent message of discontent rooted in social and economic inequities that result in health disparities. Deficiencies in affordable housing, education and employment, as well as access to health care and its excessive cost, are critical factors driving unrest, preventable illness and premature death. But partnerships have the potential to coordinate Wisconsin’s intrinsic academic and community resources to address these deficiencies. This requires collaboration across education, employment, housing, nutrition and transportation sectors. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Maryland hospitals spend $1.6 billion on community services
Maryland’s hospitals in the past year provided nearly $1.6 billion in services other than the medical care traditionally offered in emergency rooms, operating rooms, or hospital beds, according to the Maryland Hospital Association (MHA). The hospital association said its members spent 10 percent of their operating expenses on non-traditional services such as chronic disease management programs, free health education and other public health programs. “These contributions are at the essence of what hospitals mean to the communities they serve, and hospitals are redefining ‘community benefits’ in real time,” Carmela Coyle, President & CEO of MHA, said in a statement. (Baltimore Sun)

More Americans, Illinoisans enrolling in Obamacare, despite uncertainty
Uncertainty surrounding the future of Obamacare hasn’t stopped a growing number of consumers in Illinois and across the nation from buying health insurance through the law’s exchanges this year. More than 2.1 million Americans — including 68,192 Illinoisans — selected health insurance plans through the Obamacare exchange since open enrollment began November 1, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Wednesday. In Illinois, that’s up nearly 1,400 over the same time last year, and nationally, that’s about 97,000 more compared with November 2015. (Chicago Tribune)

Medicaid is balm and benefit for victims of gun violence
By funding the expansion of state Medicaid programs, the Affordable Care Act has brought coverage to tens of thousands of previously uninsured shooting victims who, once stabilized in emergency rooms, missed out on crucial follow-up care and have endured unremitting effects of nerve injuries, fractured bones, intestinal damage and post-traumatic stress disorder. Officials at urban hospitals across the country estimated that before the health law, more than half of their gunshot patients were uninsured. Obligated under federal law, hospitals provided hundreds of millions of dollars in unreimbursed services. (Kaiser Health News)

Improving on-the-fly teamwork in health care
Calls for teamwork in health care are as persistent as they are hard to heed. Over the past decade, a growing number of observers have called attention to the need for providers to coordinate better across specialties, shifts, departments and even organizations to produce safe, affordable, high-quality care. Cross-boundary teamwork is particularly important when caring for patients who have chronic conditions and multiple additional diseases, increasing the need for collaboration among diverse providers. This type of teamwork is also critical in making the customized, time-sensitive care decisions required in busy emergency departments. (Harvard Business Review)

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