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

Iowa News

Iowa legislators taking long look at mental health issues
One of the hot-button topics currently being discussed during the Iowa legislative session is mental health. Representatives in the house and senate can agree that something needs to be done regarding mental health, though opinions about how best to tackle the problem vary depending on which side of the aisle they’re on. State Senator Rich Taylor (D) feels there is a crisis with mental health in Iowa, which will only be exacerbated by the proposed budget cuts to the Independence and Cherokee mental health facilities. (KCII)

Genesis adds outpatient mental health intervention
A local hospital now has another option for patients with anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. Michelle O’Neill reports this morning, Genesis Health System held a ribbon-cutting for its new behavioral intervention unit at its west campus in Davenport. The three-bed unit for patients of all ages is adjacent to the emergency department. They can stay for up to three days as out-patients instead of being admitted to the hospital. The goal is to intervene early to help patients get better without being admitted. Haldeman says the new behavioral unit will also help patients, health care providers, and the community save money. (NPR)

Johnson County could get kicked out of mental health partnership
Johnson County may lose its spot in a mental health service partnership in eastern Iowa. The county is in a partnership with nine other counties. It’s designed to save money and to make services consistent among counties. Johnson County will fall short about $1 million in its contribution to the nine-county grouping next budget year. Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan says there is shortfall because there’s a cap to the money the county gets from the mental health services tax levy. If kicked out, the shortfall could affect a number of programs in Johnson County, including psychology services and help with supportive employment. (KCRG)

National News

Push to change KanCare starts; budget director plans to testify against bill
Lawmakers and health care workers continued Tuesday to push for changes to KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. Senate Bill 69 would bring a series of changes to the program, including capping administrative spending by the managed care organizations within KanCare. Lawmakers have moved quickly in recent weeks to propose changes to KanCare. A federal review that was made public earlier this month found that the Medicaid program was falling short of standards. The federal government also denied the state’s request to extend the KanCare program through 2018. (Kansas City Star)

Florida hospitals challenge state on outpatient rates
Dozens of hospitals across Florida have filed legal challenges against the state in a dispute about payments for outpatient care in the Medicaid program. The challenges involve major players in the hospital industry from various areas of Florida. The challenges, which raise similar arguments and were consolidated in a single case this week, deal with a complicated process in which the state Agency for Health Care Administration determines payment rates for hospitals in the Medicaid program. Changes proposed last year by the agency would reduce outpatient rates for the hospitals. (Naples Herald)

Nursing in northeast Ohio is in critical condition
Although health systems in Northeast Ohio are looking for skilled workers in nearly every position, the top priority for all of them is finding a nurse. Many of the shortages and challenges in Northeast Ohio reflect the same issues facing the entire country: aging populations, increasing retirements, fewer people entering the workforce and a shift toward population health. In an effort to address the region’s strong need for physicians, especially in rural and undeserved urban areas, Northeast Ohio Medical University partnered with Cleveland State University to create the Partnership for Urban Health, which recruits and trains medical students with an expressed interest in serving Northeast Ohio. (Modern Healthcare)

Trump’s immigration order could contribute to doctor shortage
President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration could worsen the shortage of doctors in the United States, warns the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). “We are deeply concerned that the January 27 executive order will disrupt education and research and have a damaging long-term impact on patients and health care,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch said in a statement Monday. American Hospital Association President Rick Pollack said he is concerned that, without modification, Trump’s executive order could adversely impact patient care, education and research. (The Hill)

Health care feels the weight of Trump’s new executive orders
President Donald Trump recently issued an executive order temporarily banning immigration from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, a move that will have a tremendous impact on the medical community, due to the huge role of foreign medical graduates in filling residency slots, as well as physician needs in rural areas and safety-net hospitals. Even policies that are not specifically directed at healthcare are having an effect, such as Trump’s proposed tax on imports from Mexico, which could apply to billions of dollars’ worth of medical supplies imported annually. (Healthcare Dive)

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