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

Iowa News

Student health fee will increase to improve mental health care
Student fees will increase by $12 in July for the student health cost to expand mental health services at Thielen Student Health Center and Student Counseling Services at Iowa State University. In August, the Health Center and Student Counseling Services presented at the Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Senate meeting in order to inform the student body. The Board of Regents approved the student health cost in December. “We are trying to work to be a leader in how student health and student counseling provide mental health care,” Erin Baldwin, director of the health center, said. (Iowa State Daily)

New medical equipment at St. Luke’s Hospital helping a man with his rehab
A Cedar Rapids man is slowly on the road to recovery. 25-year-old Ryan Jansa disappeared in May while out celebrating a friend’s graduation from the University of Iowa. Just a few hours later, someone found him unconscious behind a bar. A doctor told the family that he may have been hit by a car. He suffered extensive injuries, and his recovery has taken him to Saint Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. He has been using a medical device called a solo step there. It’s a rock climbing rope attached to a trolley and a harness that helps Jansa stand up whenever he loses his balance. The hospital got the solo step a month and a half ago through a $40,000 grant from the St. Luke’s Foundation. (KCRG)

Broadlawns launches neighborhood health initiative
Broadlawns Medical Center this week announced a new initiative, Broadlawns Local, a multifaceted effort to address social determinants of health for Des Moines residents in neighborhoods that surround the medical campus. The initiative incorporates training in health care careers for students and adults and offers community programs to address physical activity, diabetes, nutrition and smoking. “As the community hospital for Polk County and the largest employer in North Des Moines, Broadlawns recognizes that attending to the overall health of the community extends beyond providing traditional medical care,” Broadlawns President and CEO Jody Jenner said. (Des Moines Business Record)

New prevention system for medical identity theft at Van Diest Medical Center
Beginning January 23, patients at Van Diest Medical Center will experience a modern, convenient registration process that protects against medical identity theft and the creation of duplicate medical records. Using a state-of-the-art system, called SafeChx, patients will be able to register using their fingerprint to instantly secure their medical information. “We are committed to protecting our patients and providing our staff with the tools necessary to administer the best quality of care,” said Erick Schrier, security officer and information technology manager at Van Diest Medical Center. (KZWC)

National News

After blistering report faults Kansas’ Medicaid program, state officials respond
Kansas health officials on Monday defended themselves to lawmakers over a blistering federal review of KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. Susan Mosier, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the analysis made “statements of opinion rather than statements of fact.” The report from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) last week said that KanCare was out of compliance with federal standards. And it emphasized that a lack of oversight and communication issues may put KanCare patients at risk. The state has to submit a corrective action plan to CMS by February 17. (Kansas City Star)

It’s not healthier to live in the country: Rural Washingtonians sicker than city dwellers
For many city dwellers, the country evokes images of healthy living: Clean air, farm-fresh produce and lots of outdoor activities. Data tell a different story. Rural Americans are sicker than urban Americans, and their health is declining, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers found that not only are mortality rates for these causes significantly higher in rural areas in Washington and nationwide, but the gap between urban and rural rates has been growing. (Seattle Times)

Why Kentucky couldn’t kill Obamacare: A lesson for Congress
Kentucky Republican Matt Bevin ran for governor on a platform devoted almost exclusively to killing Obamacare, including its expansion of Medicaid insurance to the poor. He didn’t do it. Following in the steps of eight Republican governors who sought to expand Medicaid without appearing to do so, he applied for federal permission to add Republican-friendly tweaks to the program instead. The decision was a nod to reality. By the time Bevin took office at the beginning of 2016, almost one in three Kentuckians had Medicaid or insurance through a federally subsidized Affordable Care Act plan. (Bloomberg)

Republican plan to replace Obamacare would turn Medicaid over to states
Republicans plan to turn control of Medicaid over to the states as part of their replacement for the Affordable Care Act, according to an adviser to President Donald Trump. Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to Trump, told NBC News that the health care law that will replace Obamacare will turn Medicaid — a joint state-federal health insurance program for the poor — into a block grant program. The change would mean the federal government would give money to the states to implement Medicaid as they see fit. But many health policy analysts say that block grants could lead to reductions in care. (NPR)

Trump’s first order has strong words on health. Actual impact may be weak
The Trump administration has significant power to undermine the workings of the Affordable Care Act. The bigger question is how much of that power it will use. President Donald Trump’s executive order on Inauguration Day urging federal officials to “take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens” of the federal health law did not provide administration officials with any new powers to unravel parts of the law. “They had all this authority before,” said Len Nichols, a health policy professor at George Mason University in Virginia who supports the health law. Trump, he said, “is signaling ‘I care’” about this issue. (Kaiser Health News)

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