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

Iowa News

Mental health in Iowa is fragmented and costly
When mental health issues become visible, it often happens explosively and tragically. This is when, like a volcano erupting, mental health explodes across the headlines, only to eventually be replaced by some other disaster or scandal. But, as health care providers well know, the problem not only doesn’t go away, it’s getting worse. Unlike volcanoes, poor mental health and the dangers that can accompany it can be controlled. In Iowa, more than 120,000 people live with serious mental health issues and 80,000 Iowa youths cope with severe emotional disorders. Yet Iowa has fewer psychiatric beds and mental health professionals than nearly every state in the nation. (Des Moines Register)

Waterloo UnityPoint aims to buy bankrupt Marshalltown hospital
Central Iowa Healthcare in Marshalltown filed for bankruptcy Tuesday. The health care system asked the court to approve a plan to sell its assets to UnityPoint Health-Waterloo. “Our decision today reflects our enduring commitment to the Marshalltown community to provide access to quality health care services close to home,” Central Iowa Health Care acting Chief Executive Officer Dawnett Willis said in a statement. “It should be business as usual for the staff and providers at CIH throughout the bankruptcy process.” (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

National News

Connecticut hospitals and clinics fear cuts in Medicaid under Trump
As the future of Obamacare hangs in the balance, the chief medical officer for Hartford Healthcare says that scaling back the Medicaid part of the law would mean a loss of “tens of millions of dollars” in revenue and would result in staff reductions and scaling back of services. “The Affordable Care Act expanded coverage to a significant number of individuals; this expansion was funded in part through cuts to Medicare payments to hospitals,” the Connecticut Hospital Association said in a statement. “If the law is repealed and the cuts remain in place, Connecticut hospitals’ fiscal stability and sustainability, as well as patient access to care, will be compromised.” (Hartford Courant)

Tennessee health system rolls out statewide virtual clinic
Anyone living in Tennessee can visit a Saint Thomas Health walk-in clinic without leaving their home. Saint Thomas Health On Demand, as of Friday, is an around-the-clock virtual clinic that people can use by smartphone, tablet or computer to get a diagnosis and treatment for many common issues, such as urinary tract infections, pink eye, sinus problems or colds. Saint Thomas Health has 92 physician locations and nine hospitals in 30 counties, but the new platform gives Tennesseans living in the other two-thirds of the state an opportunity to get treatment where they are. (Tennessean)

Florida senators working on new Medicaid ‘framework’ that could expand coverage
The Florida Senate is starting to consider a new Medicaid system it could put into place if Congress gave the state a block grant and freedom to run the program with limited federal involvement, Senate President Joe Negron said Tuesday. It’s a change Negron, R-Stuart, said he hopes could expand health coverage to more than half a million Floridians caught in the “coverage gap” — people who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance of their own. (Tampa Bay Times)

Doctor shortage in poor, rural areas needs to be addressed
Doctor’s appointments may soon be hard to come by. According to a new study, the United States will be short up to 90,000 doctors by 2025. This shortage will hit rural and poor urban areas hardest – largely because the vast majority of newly minted doctors don’t end up practicing in these locales. Medical schools must change this state of affairs – by pushing their graduates to practice in the communities that most desperately need them. Rural areas in particular suffer from a dearth of doctors. (Sacramento Bee)

Millions more Americans can afford a doctor’s visit under Obamacare, study shows
The Affordable Care Act’s historic expansion of health insurance coverage has brought medical care within reach of millions of Americans who previously couldn’t afford it, new research shows. The share of adults who skipped medical care because of costs dropped by nearly one-fifth between 2013 and 2015, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. The gains were even more dramatic in the states that have most expanded coverage through the federal health care law, often called Obamacare. (Los Angeles Times)

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