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

Iowa News

Obamacare repeal could cost 240,000 Iowans’ coverage, supporters warn
Tens of thousands of Iowans could lose their health insurance and the state could be out billions of dollars if the Affordable Care Act is hastily repealed, supporters of the law said in Des Moines Tuesday. Obamacare’s most visible effects in Iowa have been to help about 150,000 poor adults gain public coverage under an expanded Medicaid program and to help about 45,000 moderate-income residents pay premiums on private policies. Mary Nelle Trefz, an analyst for the Child and Family Policy Center, cited an Urban Institute study estimating up to 240,000 Iowans could lose coverage if Obamacare was abruptly cancelled. (Des Moines Register)

INIC Program at Covenant helping preemies
Nearly 150 to 200 babies are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo every year. Thanks to a new program that launched last February, premature babies are benefiting from their parent’s touch. It’s called the INIC program for preemies and it’s one of the first in the state, among just a few in the nation. The program puts everything into the mother’s room, keeping mom and baby together in one place. (KWWL)

Pella Regional sees record number of babies born in 2016
Pella Regional Health Center had a record number of babies born in their Obstetrics (OB) Department in 2016. Director of OB Services Karen Westercamp said they reached 500 babies born on December 7 and hit 536 just before the end of the year. Westercamp credits the increase to an expansion of services at their area medical clinics, including Ottumwa, and a decrease of OB providers in rural hospitals. Pella Regional Health Center is in the process of adding a third floor, which will include an expanded obstetrics department to accommodate the growth of babies born at the hospital. (KNIA)

This Iowa heart doctor wants to improve America’s attitude toward Muslims
The man’s voice rings out from the front of the sanctuary and pierces the steady buzz of conversation. A beautiful, supple melody in Arabic asks worshippers to fall silent and draw near. The singer, Rami Eltibi, possesses a powerful set of lungs. But by trade, he’s a man of the heart. He’s an interventional cardiologist at Mercy Medical Center, a heart doctor. Eltibi, 37, became president in March of this Tri-State Islamic Center and in the year ahead, he intends to help re-frame the public conversation about his faith. (Des Moines Register)

Local hospital celebrating the big 5-0
Floyd Valley Healthcare recently celebrated its 50th anniversary as a staple in the community. Floyd Valley Healthcare Administrator Mike Donlin has been with the hospital for a good chunk of those years, since 1998. “We’ve been doing various things throughout the year but the actual anniversary date we celebrated was December 1,” Donlin said. The strong support from the community throughout the years is especially important, as Donlin emphasized community relations is a critical part of the hospital’s past, present and future. (LeMars Daily Sentinel)

National News

Telemedicine could be the key to helping Georgia’s struggling rural hospitals
Greater use of telemedicine and networks of care with bigger urban hospitals could be the key to helping Georgia’s struggling rural hospitals, a report from Augusta University (AU) concludes. It would also take some significant rule changes along with Medicaid payment reforms that could signal a legislative battle ahead. Part of the problem for rural hospitals is their counties are losing population as people have migrated to cities over the years, said Dr. William Kanto, vice president for clinical outreach and director of the new Center of Rural Health at AU. (Augusta Chronicle)

Ohio hospitals want to overturn price disclosure law
Heavy-hitters in the health care industry filed a lawsuit against the state of Ohio to block a new law that would mandate price disclosures to patients before they are given non-emergency treatment. Opponents of the law say it would lead to an absurdly large bureaucracy and patients could end up waiting hours or even days for the green light for each and every test, x-ray, injection or treatment that a doctor may order. Mike Abrams, head of the Ohio Hospital Association, says the law is flawed, confusing and would lead to delays in patient care. (Dayton Daily News)

New Mexico cancels planned Medicaid rate cuts
The New Mexico Human Services Department is canceling planned cuts in rates paid to behavioral health care providers treating Medicaid patients. The reimbursement rate cuts were set to go in effect January 1. But state Human Services officials reversed course earlier this month on cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates for certain psychiatric and therapeutic services. The move means financial relief for companies offering mental health and addiction services to patients enrolled in the state and federal program that insures health care for low-income people. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

San Francisco police see progress in dealing with people in mental crisis
The San Francisco police hostage crisis negotiation team responded to more calls in 2016 than in any year in recent history, an uptick that officials see as a sign that the department is moving in the right direction in dealing with people suffering from mental health crises. The mental health calls make up the bulk of the team’s activity, in a city where police receive more than 3,000 calls a month regarding someone in an altered mental state. They undergo a 40-hour introductory course and annual retraining to maintain the mental stamina needed to handle situations that can take hours to resolve. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Obama, Pence head to Capitol as health care overhaul fight begins
President Barack Obama is traveling to the Capitol to give congressional Democrats advice on how to combat the Republican drive to dismantle his health care overhaul. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is meeting with GOP lawmakers to discuss the best way to send Obama’s cherished law to its graveyard and replace it with – well, something. In 16 days, Republican Donald Trump replaces Obama at the White House, putting the party’s longtime goal of annulling much of the 2010 health care overhaul within reach. (Associated Press)

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