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

Iowa News

Medicaid insurers’ financial troubles dominate headlines
The financial health of the Medicaid managed care organization (MCOs) has dominated headlines for the past several months. In early November the state announced it would increase capitation rates, or the per-member per-month fees it pays the MCOs, for the first rate period that ends June 30, 2017, by about $33 million. Iowa officials pointed to rising prescription drug prices and unexpected costs of new Medicaid enrollees as the primary factors for the rate increase. Then in early December, two of the tree MCOs reported hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Akron doctor, patient involved in national research program
Cynthia Wolff, a family physician who practices at Akron Mercy Medical Clinic, and Becky Borchers, a social worker and Wolff’s patient, are seeking to make a difference for patients who are seen in primary care offices. They traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in mid-November to attend a meeting of the North American Primary Care Research Group, a multidisciplinary organization for primary care researchers. Wolff and Borchers participate in Patient and Clinician Engagement, a community of patients and physicians who are looking at the way primary care research is conducted. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Kansas community health centers see lottery as potential funding source
In tight budget times, Kansas mental health advocates are turning to the lottery for some financial help. Kyle Kessler, executive director of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas, said the association will ask the Legislature to commit an additional $31 million over the next two fiscal years for the centers. The centers were able to make do with Medicaid dollars for a while, Kessler said, but the three managed care organizations administering the program known as KanCare have reduced reimbursements and the state imposed a 4 percent cut last year to help fill its budget hole. (KCUR)

Florida shooting raises question about vets’ mental health care
The deadly shooting spree by a military veteran who dealt with mental health problems has reignited debate about services for vets with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The airport shooting Friday was the latest deadly reminder of the plight veterans face when they return to civilian life. According to a 2008 study by the RAND Corp., nearly 20 percent of American service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans advocates say there are a number of barriers to treatment, including stigma and shame surrounding mental health problems and long wait times to receive care. (USA Today)

New Hampshire could be back in court due to slow progress on mental health
New Hampshire could find itself back in court this year if it doesn’t comply with a class-action settlement aimed at rebuilding the state’s damaged mental health system. The latest six-month report from an expert reviewer found the state is making big progress in improving how it serves those with mental illness. It’s providing housing and employment services – in compliance with a 2013 class-action settlement. But the state still hasn’t built enough community-based support to keep people out of institutions such as hospitals and a state-run nursing home. (New Hampshire Public Radio)

Obamacare repeal jeopardizes mental health, addiction coverage
As Congress works to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the support of President-elect Donald Trump, people with addiction and mental health disorders, their families and treatment providers wonder how patients would maintain their sobriety — and psyches — without insurance coverage. The people helped the most by the ACA are the ones most likely to suffer from poor mental health and addiction. Almost any route taken on Capitol Hill leads to an unraveling of addiction and mental health coverage for these people. (USA Today)

Only 20 percent of Americans support health law repeal without replacement plan
The Republican strategy of repealing the Affordable Care Act before devising a replacement plan has the support of only one in five Americans, a poll released Friday finds. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey also disclosed that shrinking the federal government’s involvement and spending in health is less important to most Americans than is ensuring medical care is affordable and available. The poll found that the public’s most widely shared health goal is reducing the cost of care, with 67 percent of respondents calling it a top priority. (Kaiser Health News)

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