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

Iowa News

New options needed for care of behavioral health patients
A new residential program in Council Bluffs is part of the Southwest Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services Region’s continuing efforts to fill gaps in mental health services. The region is set to open a short-term housing program in March in the former Pottawattamie County Home, which was most recently occupied by Mosaic. The program will be for people with mental health diagnoses or dual diagnoses in mental health and substance abuse, according to Suzanne Watson, CEO of the region. The home would provide temporary shelter to people re-entering the community from a shelter, residential correctional or treatment facility or waiting to get into a residential treatment facility, Watson said. (Council Bluff Daily Nonpareil)

Iowans like Obamacare more now that it is imperiled
Iowans have grown fonder of Obamacare as its potential demise looms larger, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows. Iowa adults are evenly split over whether the law, also known as the Affordable Care Act, has been mostly a success or mostly a failure. Forty-five percent believe it has been mostly a success and 46 percent say it has been mostly a failure, the new poll shows. In an Iowa Poll in October, 32 percent of Iowans saw it as mostly a success and 59 percent said the law was mostly a failure. The new poll comes as President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans seek ways to fulfill the pledge. (Des Moines Register)

Mercy Medical Center oncologist one of first to use new device to remove cancerous tissue
Dr. Vincent Reid wakes up every day with one goal — to create a cancer survivor. And for the past three years, the surgical oncologist and medical director at Mercy Medical’s Hall-Perrine Cancer Center has wielded a powerful sword, the MarginProbe. The handheld device roots out cancerous cells through the use of radio-frequency spectroscopy, allowing the surgeon to analyze tissue and remove any remaining positive margins during a lumpectomy. It provides real time results which helps cut down on the need for a second surgery, sparing the patient from psychological and financial hardships while saving the hospital time and money. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s invests in lift equipment
The Sara Plus, a powered standing aid that promotes mobility among patients, is among 80 pieces of new equipment UnityPoint Health — St. Luke’s implemented early last year to safely move patients while lessening the physical strain on nurses, physical therapists and other care employees. Musculoskeletal disorders are the main source of injury for health care workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care workers suffer lower back and shoulder injuries at a rate three times that of construction workers. Although more than two-thirds of American adults are considered overweight or obese, few hospitals have adopted safe patient handling programs. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Bill to repeal Certificate of Need program advances in Florida House
Despite heavy opposition from much of the hospital and hospice industry, a bill that would repeal Florida’s Certificate of Need (CON) program advanced in a House subcommittee on Wednesday. The proposal would eliminate that need. Certificate of Need was initially created by the federal government in 1973 as a method to control costs, but it was repealed at the federal level in 1987. Since then, 14 states have discontinued their own CON programs, while 34 currently maintain some form of a CON program. Democrats on the committee said they feared that repealing CON laws would create conditions in which new hospitals are built in affluent areas, while older, safety-net facilities would be left to care for the majority of low-income and uninsured patients. (Florida Politics)

Health ‘sitters’: Keeping an eye on at-risk patients remotely
New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina, assigns nurse assistants to provide one-on-one, constant observation for patients who are severely confused, at risk for self-harm or have fallen after trying to get out of their hospital bed. These so-called sitters are merely observers; they don’t participate in the care of a patient, and in some cases they’re not even allowed to touch them. They’re an attempt to prevent the roughly 700,000 to 1 million patient falls that take place in U.S. hospitals each year. New Hanover and other hospitals are now trying technology that provides “telesitter” technology to monitor multiple at-risk patients at once. (Modern Healthcare)

House Republicans tout health care plan, Democrats call it inadequate
Top House Republicans say their outline for replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law is a pathway to greater flexibility and lower costs for consumers. Democrats see a road to ruin for millions who’d face lost coverage and higher medical expenses, particularly the poor. The plan “ensures more choices, lower costs and greater control over your health care,” according to talking points GOP leaders handed lawmakers heading home to face constituents during this week’s recess. Democrats say the proposal would threaten the coverage 20 million Americans gained under Obama’s 2010 overhaul. (CBS News)

Trump: Obamacare replacement coming in ‘a couple of weeks’
President Trump said on Saturday that a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act will come “in a couple of weeks.” “We are going to be submitting in a couple of weeks a great health care plan that’s going to take the place of the disaster known as Obamacare,” he said at a campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida. The president on Sunday is expected to meet with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney to discuss the administration’s strategy for tackling Obamacare. (The Hill)

Health care spending growth is set to outpace growth in GDP
In the next decade, health care spending growth in the U.S. could outstrip growth of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a new analysis. The Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Wednesday released its annual report examining Americans’ health care spending. It projected average health care spending growth of 5.6 percent per year between 2016 and 2025. By 2025, health care will account for nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy, up from 17.8 percent in 2015. The report is based on current health care law and did not estimate changes that could come as a result of any new proposed health reforms, including a repeal of the Obamacare. (Fierce Healthcare)

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