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

Iowa News

VA launches same-day primary, mental health care
A new program will offer same-day care to veterans across the country. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) said it is rolling out a new program called “MyVA Access” that will give veterans same-day access to primary care and mental health care when they need it. Gail Graham, director of the VA Central Iowa Healthcare System, said it is not common for veterans to be turned away when they are asking for help. “We have an emergency room that’s fully equipped with state-of-the-art areas not to only treat medical situations, but to also treat mental health situations,” Graham said. Veterans can walk into the emergency room at any VA hospital to get mental health help in an emergency. (KCCI)

UnityPoint Health-Finley Health Foundation awarded DRA grant
UnityPoint Health-Finley Health Foundation was a recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Dubuque Racing Association (DRA). The grant will support Finley Hospital’s Family Birthing Suites in purchasing a new baby weight scale, a necessary piece of equipment for the department. The specialized baby weight scale is accurate to one-gram weight, and is heated to prevent a newborn from getting cold during the first critical hours of life. This scale is essential to giving babies a good start in life. A few grams in weight can change a treatment plan for sick newborns, and keep the healthy ones on the right track. (UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital)

National News

North Carolina rural hospital leader worries about looming ACA repeal
Joann Anderson, CEO of Southeastern Health in Lumberton, served as a national voice for rural health care Tuesday as two U.S. hospital associations made a case against the proposed repeal without prompt replacement of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). There’s significant momentum for repeal of the ACA in the early days of a new U.S. Congress. But repeal would mean a projected loss of hundreds of billions of dollars to hospitals over 10 years, representatives of the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals told reporters during a teleconference sponsored by the groups. (North Carolina Health News)

Feds OK Arkansas Works with changes
Governor Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday he has received word that his proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid expansion program have received federal approval, with some modifications. Arkansas Works is the new name Hutchinson has proposed for the program now known as the private option, which subsidizes private health insurance for about 300,000 low-income Arkansans. Hutchinson said he discussed Medicaid expansion with President-elect Donald Trump last week and told him that Arkansas would like to receive funding for the program in block-grant form, with greater flexibility. (Arkansas Times Record)

Obamacare repeal could be ‘akin to Armageddon’ for people with mental illness
Millions of Americans, including many struggling with opioid addiction, risk losing access to mental health treatment if Republicans make good on their promise to do away with Obamacare. Full repeal of the health law would gut major benefits and protections for what the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates is 60 million people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders — creating barriers to treatment at a time when opioid abuse is epidemic, suicide rates are at a record high and there’s a severe shortage of psychiatric beds. (Politico)

Senate approves landmark mental health bill as part of 21st Century Cures Act
The Senate passed the first major mental health legislation in nearly a decade, sending the 21st Century Cures Act to President Barack Obama, who has promised to sign it. The Senate voted 94-5 to approve the act, which sailed through the House of Representatives last week. Although the 21st Century Cures Act has been championed as a way to speed up drug development, it also includes provisions aimed at improving mental health care for millions of Americans and fighting the opioid epidemic. Mental health advocates have described it as the most significant piece of mental health legislation since the 2008 law requiring equal insurance coverage for mental and physical health. (Kaiser Health News)

National health care spending grew in 2015, new data shows
National health care spending rose 5.8 percent last year, reaching $3.2 trillion, according to new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services figures published Friday in Health Affairs. Spending in 2014 grew 5.3 percent, following historically low health care spending between 2009 and 2013. The increase in the rate of growth was attributed to people using health services more frequently, thanks to the fact that millions more have insurance under Obamacare. Spending for private insurance, hospital care and physician and clinical services all increased. (Morning Consult)

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