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

Iowa News

Mary Greeley reaches 2,000 robot-assisted surgeries
When a patient was rolled into an operating room at Mary Greeley Medical Center Friday morning for a double hernia surgery, he was tended to by a normal team handling an operation: a surgeon, anesthesiologist, a few nurses and a robot. It may seem futuristic, but robotic surgery assistants have already been embraced by surgeons at Mary Greeley. Eleven staff surgeons are trained to use them and the hospital completed its 2,000th robot-assisted surgery earlier this week after purchasing its first machine six years ago, spokesman Steve Sullivan said. (Ames Tribune)

Grinnell Regional Emergency Department renovations get boost
The Grinnell Mutual Group Foundation has made a pledge of $50,000 to help renovate the emergency department at Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC). The pledge brings GRMC’s fundraising efforts for a new emergency room almost to completion. Only about $60,000 is left to raise of the $2 million needed to begin the project. Renovations are tentatively set to begin in the spring of 2017. “We are ecstatic to receive this support from Grinnell Mutual Group Foundation,” says Todd Linden, GRMC president and CEO. (Tama News-Herald/Toledo Chronicle)

AbbeHealth and UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids Finalize Affiliation Agreement
It’s official – starting January 1, 2017, AbbeHealth will be an affiliate of UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids. The two entities met Monday to finalize and sign the affiliation agreement. This agreement makes AbbeHealth an affiliate of UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids and allows it to continue as a community based provider of behavioral health care and aging services. All programs, services and care will continue to be offered to clients of AbbeHealth regardless of where individuals receive medical health care services currently or in the future. (UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids)

National News

Kansas Medicaid application backlog climbs again
The Medicaid application backlog in Kansas is on its way back up, threatening months of progress on a coverage problem that has vexed health care providers across the state. For more than a year, providers that rely on Kansas Medicaid, or KanCare, have been stung by delayed payments as they wait months for eligibility determinations that by federal rule are supposed to take no more than 45 days. A report commissioned by the Kansas Hospital Association, Kansas Medical Society and Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved found the cost burden for the backlog shifting to areas like Adult Protective Services. (Kansas Health Institute)

Renewed Tennessee Medicaid waiver will limit uncompensated-care funds
The Obama administration and Tennessee officials have broken their impasse over the future of federal funding that subsidizes uncompensated care provided by the state’s hospitals. The funding pool is part of a larger waiver that allows the state to continue its Medicaid managed care model, known as TennCare. Tennessee hospitals are nervous about how the allocations will change. It’s “a whole new ballgame with a new distribution system of funding for hospitals,” said Craig Becker, CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association. (Modern Healthcare)

Health IT effective, but not widely used for behavioral health
The use of health IT to advance behavioral health, in part by integrating it with general medical care is lagging. Greater use would not only facilitate care coordination, but could fulfill the goals of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act and other value-based care initiatives, a survey of more than 8,000 commercial health plan products shows. Behavioral health providers, in particular specialty addiction treatment organizations, often lack resources and infrastructure to implement health IT which could improve care. (HealthLeaders Media)

Inova launches investment fund to find personalized medicine innovators
Inova Health System, the giant nonprofit hospital network serving Northern Virginia, is creating a new start-up incubator and investment program focusing on “personalized” medicine innovations. “We want to create an environment that makes health sciences a new destination, a new economic engine for the region,” said Peter Jobse, who was named managing partner of the new venture. The incubator aims to focus on innovations that can better predict and prevent disease. Rather than concentrate on drug development, the program will look to develop medical devices and analytical platforms. (Washington Post)

Price transparency is nice, just don’t expect it to cut health costs
This lack of price transparency in health care has been cited as one of the reasons we spend too much on it. It’s easy to overpay and health care prices vary tremendously. However, more than half of the states have passed laws that either establish websites with health care prices or require plans, doctors and hospitals to disclose them to patients. But improved transparency isn’t working as well as hoped, according to a study published this year in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Price transparency may be part of the answer, but it isn’t the entire answer. (New York Times)

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