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

Iowa News

Youth mental health program makes strides
The Davenport Community School District is in the third year of a federal grant program called Project Aware. The initiative was disbursed to three school districts in Iowa: Davenport, Waterloo and Sioux City. The $2.54 million federal grant is spread over five years, or $508,000 per year. Most of the funds go to help the students pay for mental health services, except the grant does not cover medications. Most of the 268 children who are supported so far are uninsured or under-insured, with co-payments that are too expensive for their families. (Quad-City Times)

Suicide rate among farmers at historic high
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report that looked at suicide rates for different occupational groups. One surprising statistic was suicide rates for workers in the agricultural, fishing and forestry industry are the highest of any other occupational group. Many think of the 1980s as the most prominent mental health emergency in rural communities, marked by high rates of suicide and violence. The Iowa Concern Hotline was started as a direct response to help farm families experiencing economic and mental health challenges during this period, and it is a resource that is more important today than ever before. (Iowa Farmer Today)

State faces $100 million in budget cuts
A decline in projected state tax revenue will force $100 million in spending cuts for the current state fiscal year, according to Governor Terry Branstad’s top budget administrator. David Roederer, director of the Iowa Department of Management, said Monday the governor will propose budget reductions when the Iowa Legislature convenes in January. The current state budget, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, is now projected to have about $7.2 billion in revenue. That’s up 4.2 percent compared with the past state fiscal year, but it represents a decline of $96.2 million compared with a revenue forecast issued in October. (Des Moines Register)

National News

How San Antonio became a national leader in mental health care
San Antonio community leaders, government officials, law enforcement, judges, medical institutions and the county mental health authority have made tremendous strides together in identifying and treating people with mental illness. This coalition has built a crisis center for psychiatric and substance abuse emergencies and a 22-acre campus for the homeless. To date, more than 100,000 people have been diverted from jail and emergency rooms to treatment, local officials say, resulting in a savings of nearly $100 million over an eight-year period. Thousands of emergency responders in San Antonio and Bexar County have been trained to manage mental health crises. (Boston Globe)

Mayo Clinic joins efforts to prevent physician suicide
Three prominent health care organizations are joining forces to prevent suicide among physicians and medical trainees. Mayo Clinic, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention introduced a library of educational resources. The new suicide-prevention resources include a four-minute video that advises medical students, residents, and fellows on how to support each other, express concern to peers and encourage help-seeking behavior. Mayo researchers are also studying other aspects of physician well-being, such as physician burnout. (HealthLeaders Media)

Pets help people manage the main of serious mental illness
Any pet owner will tell you that their animal companions comfort and sustain them when life gets rough. This may be especially true for people with serious mental illness, a study finds. Many people with serious mental illness live at home and have limited contact with the health care system, says Helen Brooks, a mental health researcher at University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and the lead author of the study. So they’re doing a lot of the work of managing their conditions. Brooks says, “Many felt deep emotional connections with their pet that weren’t available from friends and family.” (NPR)

Obamacare repeal could force tough choices for states
Repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law could bring difficult choices for states, which face the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to provide health care for the poor. That, in turn, could fire up heated debates in state capitols over how to make up the gap. Among states’ choices if President-elect Donald Trump makes good on promises to repeal the law are raising taxes or eliminating coverage for some below the poverty line. It could also lead more states to create controversial requirements for those getting benefits to work or pay for a portion of coverage. (Johnstown Tribune-Democrat)

Without ACA guarantees, 52 million adults could have trouble buying individual plans
More than one in four adults younger than 65 live with conditions that private insurers could have declined to cover in some policies prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The researchers noted that a large share of those individuals likely get their insurance through their employers, which does not take into consideration prior health issues. But if the health law were repealed and those people lost their health insurance for any reason, they could face problems. Southern states carried the highest percentages of adults at risk of being shut out by insurers. (Kaiser Health News)

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