Visit our website ⇒

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

Iowa News

More Iowans sign up for ‘Obamacare’ insurance
Americans who buy health insurance through a job may take for granted the protections of employer-based plans. But millions of Americans are not offered insurance at work. Perhaps they’re unemployed or self-employed or early retirees. The 2017 open enrollment period for private coverage that qualifies for federal subsidies is underway. As of last week, more than 12,000 Iowans had enrolled in a plan, an increase from last year. These individuals are not among the tens of thousands of Iowans who gained coverage under the law’s expansion of Medicaid. (Des Moines Register)

Trump picks Governor Branstad as China Ambassador
President-elect Donald Trump offered the post of U.S. ambassador to China to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a longtime friend of Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to three people close to the matter. Branstad has accepted the offer. The decision comes at a time of heightened tensions with China after Trump abandoned almost four decades of diplomatic protocol on December 2 by speaking directly with the leader of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rogue province. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang called Branstad an “old friend” of that nation’s people. (Bloomberg)

National News

Medicaid expansion dies quietly in Wyoming
Hopes for Medicaid expansion, the program intended to bring health coverage to thousands of low-income adults, have died in Wyoming. The four-year effort to expand Medicaid in the Cowboy State expired unceremoniously in the wake of Donald Trump’s successful White House bid. The president-elect has said he will overhaul or replace the Affordable Care Act, of which growth of the Medicaid program was a key component. Outside Wyoming, states are engaged in “watchful waiting, worried waiting, unsure waiting,” said Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Casper Star Tribune)

Free clinics aim to fill VA’s shortfalls in mental health
Over the past three years, the sprawling VA system has come under fire from Congress and the media because veterans were waiting too long to see a doctor. Mental health appointments have been particularly difficult, and that can be dangerous for veterans. Now, a new chain of free mental health clinics for vets has opened in five cities across the United States to fill the gap. The clinics, part of the nonprofit Cohen Veterans Network, are intended primarily for those who have served in the military during the post-September 11 era, though they are open to all veterans. (California Healthline)

How to save rural hospitals
Since 2010, seven rural hospitals have closed in Tennessee. Nationally, some 283 are considered vulnerable for future closure, with two of those located in Tennessee. With increased distances to emergency rooms, longer driving times can mean the difference between life and death. The movement of care to the major medical centers is making it harder by the day to profitably operate rural hospitals. The loss of revenue streams threatens more facilities, lost jobs and longer drives to emergency departments. In many rural communities, jobs are also at stake, all of which beg the question: How do we save our rural hospitals? (Tennessean)

Kaiser names first chief community health officer
Kaiser Permanente has named its first chief executive to build and maintain relationships with community organizations as a way to impact population health. Dr. Bechara Choucair started working as Kaiser Permanente’s first chief community health officer last week. The system’s incentives for keeping its population healthy are partly financial. The healthier its enrolled population, the lower the medical costs for its insurance arm. In addition to overseeing the system’s community health efforts, Choucair will serve as senior vice president of the philanthropic arm of the giant health system and health plan. (Modern Healthcare)

IRS tweaks could promote community health
Non-profit hospitals shy from investing in community health initiatives for fear that the murky verbiage in the tax code could bring down an audit, a research report suggests. Researchers at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health want the Trump administration to revise Internal Revenue Service (IRS) policies governing community benefit spending to encourage greater hospital involvement in community-wide health initiatives. Report author Sara Rosenbaum said, “We are suggesting that it makes great sense to broaden the definition of what is community health improvement to include activities that today are excluded from the definition.” (HealthLeaders Media)

Leave a Comment

Please take a moment to read through our comment policy.

If you would like a photo to appear next to your comment, you'll need to upload a gravatar.