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

Iowa News

Collaborative approach keeps people with mental health issues out of jail
Leaders in behavioral health and the court system have come together to help keep people suffering from mental illness out of prisons. A panel spoke with law enforcement, doctors, students and professors at a St. Ambrose workshop this week in a community approach to look deeper into why people with mental health issues often end up in jail and to look for solutions on how to change that. “We have to continually educate people about mental illness and substance abuse. I think that if there are things we don’t know about, we maybe have the wrong impression of things,” said Michelle Rock, conference speaker. (WQAD)

Coverage by Affordable Care Act could be in jeopardy
The future of health insurance coverage in Jones County is unknown, but people will be affected one way or another depending how Congress changes the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For some Jones County residents, it could mean losing their marketplace health insurance coverage offered through ACA. But for Jones Regional Medical Center the hospital won’t be impacted as much, according to CEO Eric Briesemeister. While most people in Jones County are insured, Briesemeister said the law was impactful because the hospital saw fewer uninsured people seeking services that they previously were unable to pay for due to lack of insurance. (Jones County Journal-Eureka)

Health officials advise deep clean amid flu season peak
Forty-four Iowa schools reported more than 10 percent of their students were absent due to sickness, an indication that flu season is nearing its peak this year. The superintendent of South Central Calhoun High School said 80 students – 23 percent of the student body – stayed home sick Thursday. The district posted a warning on its website reminding students and staff to stay home if they are sick and to get the flu shot. “This is not just a minor illness,” said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, of the Iowa Department of Public Health. “It’s an illness that is still in the top 10 causes of death here in Iowa.” (KCCI)

Siouxland sees spike in influenza
Area doctors say this year has seen more cases of the flu than last year. “Usually every year there’s a certain two-week period where there’s a peak and it appears that we’re seeing that right now” says Dr. David Ensz, Family Medicine Physician at South Sioux City Mercy Medical Center in South Sioux City. Both children and adults are seeing a rise in influenza right now. State health officials reported 25 deaths across the state due to the flu. Two of them from northwest Iowa. (KTIV)

Miles, Kinley launch venture capital firm aimed at fintech, health care
Two longtime Greater Des Moines investment professionals are joining forces to launch a $125 million venture capital fund that will focus on investments in early- to midstage companies in the financial technology and health care sectors. David Miles, owner of Miles Capital Inc., has partnered with Matthew Kinley, executive vice president of Pappajohn Capital Resources, to form ManchesterStory Group. The Des Moines-based venture capital company will specifically focus on insurance-relevant innovations. (Des Moines Business Record)

National News

Florida nonprofit hospitals brace for legislative battle
A growing number of Republican legislators are signing on to Governor Rick Scott’s call to deregulate the health care industry, a move that nonprofit hospitals fear could cripple their ability to care for the poor. The deregulation push gained steam with Senator Rob Bradley’s bill to repeal the Certificate of Need (CON) law. “If you let someone come in and develop a specialty hospital, then they can take the paying patients out of the hospital and leave those covered by government insurance or none. CON was designed to make sure that didn’t happen,” said Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association. (Fort Myers News Press)

KanCare expansion advocates stage Statehouse rally and pack hearing
A yearlong campaign aimed at building support for Medicaid expansion culminated Wednesday in a show-of-force lobbying effort. A crowd of approximately 200 filled the Statehouse for a rally before the House Health and Human Services Committee convened a hearing on a bill that would expand eligibility for KanCare to more low-income Kansans. “We have two choices,” said Tom Bell, president and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association. “One is, we can sit back and wait and see what happens in Congress. Or, two, we can get in line and get this money back to our state.” (KCUR)

How a travel ban could worsen doctor shortages in hospitals and threaten primary care
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco yesterday upheld the restraining order on President Trump’s immigration ban. A key argument was the negative impact of the ban on higher education, but an important corollary is the impact on medical care in the U.S. While the world waits for a final decision on the matter, potentially from the Supreme Court, it’s critical to look at the potential ramifications of the ban. Doctors are among those people directly affected – and that has big implications for health care delivery in U.S. hospitals, particularly those in rural America and inner-city safety net hospitals. (Twin-Falls Times News)

Hospitals in low-income areas could lose billions in Obamacare repeal
A hospital trade group is warning that if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement, hospitals across the country would lose billions of dollars in funding. America’s Essential Hospitals (AEH), a trade group that represents hospitals serving low-income communities, released a report Thursday detailing $40.5 billion in potential losses from 2018 through 2026 if congressional Republicans repeal Obamacare without a comparable replacement. “These numbers really show what’s at stake for the patients who depend on the doors being open at essential hospitals,” AEH CEO Bruce Siegel said. (The Hill)

Tom Price is confirmed as Health Secretary
The Senate early Friday approved the nomination of Representative Tom Price to be secretary of Health and Human Services, putting him in charge of President Trump’s efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. By a vote of 52 to 47, the Senate confirmed Price, Republican of Georgia, after a debate that focused as much on his ethics and investments as on his views on health policy. Democrats denounced his desire to rein in the growth of Medicare and Medicaid by making fundamental changes to the programs, which insure more than 100 million Americans. (New York Times)

Conservatives urge speedup of health law repeal, dismiss calls for caution
Leading conservative Republicans from the House and Senate say Congress is moving too slowly on efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. But their potential resistance to compromise — even with other members of their own party — underscores just how hard a task Republicans have set for themselves. After getting off to a quick start, GOP efforts to dismantle the health law appear to have slowed considerably. House and Senate committees have already missed a deadline of Jan. 27 to write and pass their proposed repeal and replace provisions, although Senate leaders acknowledged early this year that marker would likely not be met. (Kaiser Health News)

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