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

Iowa News

AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa to move some special needs enrollees to in-house case managers
AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa — the only private Medicaid insurance company still contracting with outside case management agencies — plans to reassign and shift beneficiaries receiving long-term services and supports to in-house case managers. Both Amerigroup Iowa and UnitedHealthcare of the River Valley already have opted to use in-house case managers. Critics say moving those services from an external agency to in-house can create a conflict of interest as the case manager tasked with deciding what services a client is in need of receives a paycheck from the company that’s paying for those services. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Local entities form sexual assault response team
A corroboration between several entities has resulted in the creation of a new tool for use in cases of sexual assault incidents in Palo Alto County. The Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, was unveiled February 3. START is the product of a joint effort by the Palo Alto County Attorney’s Office, Palo Alto Community Health System, the Emmetsburg Police Department, Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office, West Bend Police Department and the Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault. The stated purpose of START is to provide effective responses and support to sexual assault incidents in Palo Alto County. (Emmetsburg Reporter Democrat)

National News

Legislators to debate KanCare expansion amid uncertainty about Obamacare repeal
KanCare expansion advocates say confusion in Washington, D.C., is helping their cause as they gear up for Statehouse hearings this week on an expansion bill. “It just seems like every day there is one more signal that this repeal isn’t a done deal,” said Tom Bell, president and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association. “This is a really fluid situation and I think it would be a huge mistake for Kansas not to get itself in a position to take advantage of it.” To that end, representatives of more than a dozen health care providers and business organizations are lining up to testify this week during three days of House Health and Human Services Committee hearings. (KCUR)

A tale of two Accountable Care Organizations
Although the results from Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are inconsistent, these organizations are proliferating. What follows is a tale of two ACOs—one that survived a Medicare testing program and one that dropped out. UnityPoint Health, a $4 billion system with 43 hospitals across Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, has a physician-led ACO that covers just under 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the Next Generation ACO model. By carefully tracking high-risk patients, targeting unnecessary costs and leveraging health IT, UnityPoint has trimmed unnecessary spending and improved quality in key areas, officials said. (Modern Healthcare)

Could Minnesota health reforms foreshadow repeal and replace?
Most states have been muddling through with the 2017 status quo, but Minnesota is a special case, taking three unusual actions that are worth a closer look. Last month, Minnesota passed a one-time bailout for some consumers in the individual insurance market dealing with skyrocketing premiums, rejected an attempt to let insurers offer cheaper, bare-bones coverage and laid the groundwork for a sort of homegrown “public option” insurance plan. Minnesota is one of just two states offering a so-called basic health plan that can cover lower and moderate income residents. (Kaiser Health News)

Obamacare helped the homeless, who now worry about coverage repeal
Everyone expects Congress to change the Affordable Care Act. But no one knows exactly how. The uncertainty has one group of people especially concerned — the homeless. Many of these people received health coverage for the first time under Obamacare. They’re worried it will disappear. Homeless advocates have argued that better health coverage should eventually reduce costly emergency room visits. They also say coverage can help people get off the streets by dealing with chronic problems, such as mental health issues, that might keep them outside. (Iowa Public Radio)

Ryan: Obamacare replacement coming ‘this year’
Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that Congress’s work to repeal and replace Obamacare will be finished “this year.” Ryan was responding to a question about President Trump’s comments on Sunday that “maybe it’ll take ’till sometime into next year” to roll out a Republican replacement plan. But the Speaker said legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare will pass this year. When that legislation would go into effect that could possibly extend into future years, he added. “The question is how long does it take to implement the full replacement of Obamacare.” (The Hill)

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