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

Iowa News

Fix Iowa’s mental health system
Iowa’s mental health system is broken. As Medical Director of Mercy Behavioral Health and psychiatrist for three of the east central region’s licensed residential care facilities, Alan Whitters believe that it is only getting worse. The Treatment Advocacy Center rated Iowa dead last in the number of state psychiatric beds for the United States with only two beds per 100,000 population. A further reduction in residential bed will only result in more cost shifting as emergency departments in local hospitals are forced to bear those costs and jails and prisons are increasingly populated with people with serious mental illnesses. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Making mental health easier
Rural Iowans are far less likely to seek out mental health treatment, and even less likely to receive it, according to Children and Families of Iowa (CFI). CFI is one of numerous groups working to expand mental health care in rural areas, and this year received a $36,450 grant to support its telehealth program. The program lets clients receive in-person therapy, but also provides a video link to a doctor who can prescribe medication in the same location, removing the need for the client to travel. CFI offers services in all Iowa counties. Its telehealth is offered in both Fort Dodge and Osceola, and both benefited from the grant from Telligen Community Initiative. (Fort Dodge Messenger)

National News

Maryland could lose billions in federal funding if Obamacare is repealed
The repeal of Obamacare could cost the State of Maryland nearly $2 billion in Medicaid funding for more than 260,000 people, state legislative analysts told lawmakers Thursday. Hospitals could lose an additional $2.3 billion, the analysts told the House Health and Government Operations Committee. That’s federal money they receive for working to keep health care costs down. Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association, said repeal would cause the hospitals’ debt from unpaid bills to increase. Coyle also said repeal could raise hospital rates and insurance premiums for everyone. (Baltimore Sun)

Alabama governor wants to keep funding for Medicaid, hospitals
In a letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), Alabama Governor Robert Bentley asked to keep funding for Medicaid, which is crucial to the operations of Alabama hospitals, and eliminate reductions in Disproportionate Share Hospital (DHS) funds entirely. The revenue is particularly critical for the state’s rural hospitals, the vast majority of which operate in the red. Danne Howard, executive vice president and chief policy officer for the Alabama Hospital Association, said Thursday that message on DSH payments was a message they brought to the state’s congressional delegation. (Montgomery Advertiser)

Report projects ACA repeal would impact hospitals and double Pennsylvania’s budget deficit
Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would cause significant financial pain to businesses, patients, and taxpayers in Pennsylvania, according to a recent report. The state’s projected budget deficit would nearly double and an estimated 3,425 additional residents would die prematurely each year. Revenue for hospitals and other care providers would also decline substantially. “Some hospitals and physician practices, especially in urban centers and rural areas, may not survive,” the report says. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

California’s community clinics, ACA beneficiaries, worry about their future
Community clinics are key providers of primary care services for the poor. Today, more than 3.5 million community clinic patients are covered by Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for people with low incomes. More than half of patients who signed up for Medi-Cal after the advent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have gotten their primary care at community clinics. These clinics are worried that a repeal of the ACA long would obliterate their jobs. Patients fret it would jeopardize their care. (Kaiser Health News)

GOP governors defend Medicaid expansion
Several Republican governors are defending Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid in their states, highlighting a thorny issue for the party as lawmakers navigate repeal of the health care reform law. Full repeal would mean eliminating the law’s expansion of eligibility for Medicaid coverage, which has provided insurance for about 11 million new people in 31 states. Many of those states have Republican governors who are wary of their constituents losing coverage and of their state budgets losing the infusion of federal money that came with the expansion of the program, which affects low-income citizens. (The Hill)

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