Visit our website ⇒

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

Iowa News

Transportation services remains unavailable on Iowa Health and Wellness Plan
More than 140,000 low-income Iowans will continue to not have a service that provides rides to and from doctors’ appointments, dialysis and other nonemergency medical services. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in late November approved a waiver request from the state of Iowa that eliminated non-emergency medical transportation services for adults enrolled in the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan starting Jan. 1, 2017. That means Iowa now has more Medicaid beneficiaries than ever — almost 600,000 — but the budget has not kept up, McCoy said. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Kim Reynolds should reconsider mental health funding
With Terry Branstad set to become the U.S. ambassador to China, Kim Reynolds will become governor and perhaps have a different view on mental health than Branstad. The number of public psychiatric beds was reduced from 149 in 2010 to 64 in 2016. Imagine UnityPoint or Mercy cutting off half of its emergency room. That wouldn’t be acceptable. Why is it acceptable to cut funding for people suffering mental illness? According to Treatment Advocacy Center, Iowa earns a “D” grade in emergency evaluation. (Des Moines Register)

Project SEARCH gives hands-on work experience to people with disabilities
Project SEARCH is a new initiative to the Quad-Cities that provides classroom instruction and workplace internships to students with physical and intellectual disabilities in hopes of preparing them for future employment. The initiative is a collaboration between UnityPoint Health — Trinity, Bettendorf School District, North Scott School District, Pleasant Valley School District, Goodwill Industries, Vocational Rehabilitation and Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency. (Quad-City Times)

UnityPoint Clinic to sponsor JA Biztown clinic
UnityPoint Clinic will sponsor a student-run simulated health clinic at Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Iowa’s BizTown. The clinic will join 13 other corporate-sponsored businesses that support JA’s mission of educating students about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. The program for elementary school students combines in-class learning with a daylong visit to a fully interactive simulated town. Students “hired” to work in the health care clinic will assume roles such as doctor, nurse, medical assistant, clinic manager and billing specialist. (Des Moines Business Record)

Blank Children’s Hospital opening new kid’s emergency room
Blank Children’s Hospital is ready to open an emergency room (ER), just for children. The ER will have 12 pediatric rooms located adjacent to the new emergency room for adult patients opened last summer. In the past it was a long hallway so you couldn’t see the patients all at one time,” said Dr. Amy Groen, who is the Medical Director of the Blank Emergency Department. “Now it’s in the circular area where we can see all the patients at all times.” The area will also have people specialized in working with children to help them cope with a visit to the ER. (WHO)

Good news on Iowa overdose deaths: Fewer cases in 2 years
Iowa got a rare piece of good news about heroin and pain-pill abuse Thursday: The number of Iowans dying from overdoses of those drugs has dropped significantly in the past two years, after spiking to record highs over the previous decade. The state’s top expert believes the use of overdose-antidotes is helping stem the tide of such deaths. The number of pain-pill overdose deaths jumped from 11 in 2003 to 77 in 2013, then fell to 42 in 2014 and stayed down at 43 for 2015, according to a new report from the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Georgia identifies rural hospitals in biggest need of donation help
A South Georgia hospital has been ranked as the most financially stressed among 49 rural hospitals eligible for a new state tax credit program. The program, created during the 2016 session of the Georgia General Assembly, allows tax credits to individuals and corporations that donate to struggling rural hospitals. The credits aim to help shore up rural health care, which has been under increasing financial pressure in the state. Since the beginning of 2013, five rural Georgia hospitals have closed, and many others are in financial danger. (Georgia Health News)

Medicaid expansion proves good for Alaska
It’s not often that government has a chance to help thousands of people and save money at the same time. Medicaid expansion was one of these opportunities. Expansion is a bright spot in a dismal Alaska economy. Over 25,000 people now have health coverage at no cost to the state of Alaska. Alaska health care providers have received over $288 million in revenues since it started in September 2015. Health care jobs are the fastest growing sector in the state’s economy, in part due to Medicaid expansion. (Alaska Dispatch News)

Many parents with job-based coverage still turn to Medicaid, CHIP to insure kids
Lower income parents who have health insurance through their employers are increasingly likely to forgo family coverage and enroll their kids in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) instead, a new study found. Working families’ growing reliance on these programs is something lawmakers should keep in mind when they consider whether to renew financing for the CHIP program in 2017, the study’s lead author said. “These aren’t just safety net programs for uninsured families,” said Douglas Strane, a clinical research associate at PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of the study. (Kaiser Health News)

Repealing Obamacare could leave 59 million Americans uninsured
The goal of the Affordable Care Act was to whittle down the number of uninsured Americans and bring order to the Wild West of the individual insurance market. According to a new analysis by the Urban Institute think tank, if the law is repealed like Republican leaders want, both of those things would be undone. In fact, the uninsured rate would likely be even worse than it was before the law was passed. Nearly 30 million people would quickly become uninsured, the report authors find—the majority of them from the working class. (The Atlantic)

Passage of Cures Act comes at expense of preventive health funding
The Senate’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act Wednesday reflects a mixed bag for public health advocates. Much of the focus around the bill revolved around whether the quicker regulatory approval process of new drugs and medical devices would come at the expense of patient safety. Provisions added on the final version of the Cures Act provide much-needed resources for behavioral health and drug-abuse treatment and were seen as a major win by advocates. But the wins come at the expense of funding for various public health prevention programs. (Modern Healthcare)

U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993
For the first time in more than two decades, life expectancy for Americans declined last year — a troubling development linked to a panoply of worsening health problems in the United States. Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death. Overall, life expectancy fell by one-tenth of a year, from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015, according to the latest data. (Washington Post)

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.