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

Iowa News

Supervisors vote to reduce mental health levy
Muscatine County is tired of paying for Scott County’s mental health services, Muscatine County Board of Supervisors say. The supervisors voted unanimously Monday to reduce the county’s mental health levy for fiscal year 2017-18, in the hope it will not contribute as much to the Eastern Iowa Mental Health/Disability Services Region as it has since regionalize began in 2014. Jeff Sorensen, chairman of the board, said the move would get Iowa legislators’ attention and stress the importance of the need to remove the levy freeze that has kept Scott County from increasing its mental health levy since the 1990s. (Muscatine Journal)

Iowa’s GOP Statehouse shows the locals who’s boss
Wielding their power to take a cudgel to local laws, Iowa’s Republican-controlled Statehouse is moving to make workers in four counties take a pay cut. Legislators plan to roll back minimum-wage laws that local governments passed to help their working-poor constituents. Not content with that, the Republican measure would also restrict local governments’ power to set labor regulations and civil rights protections. Workers in four counties that have enacted wage minimums scaled toward $10 an hour would face a pay cut back to the $7.25 state minimum. (New York Times)

Waterloo hospital foundation receives $1-million-plus gift
The Covenant Foundation Inc. has received a donation of more than $1 million from the estate of Cecilia Weepie, one of the largest gifts bestowed to the foundation. When Cecilia’s brothers William and Paul Weepie began visiting Covenant Medical Center as patients, she donated regularly to the Covenant Foundation. After William and Paul passed away, she continued to give in their memory until she died in 2014, at the age of 102. Through those donations and the estate gift, Weepie’s contributions to the Covenant Foundation total more than $1.2 million. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

National News

Colorado’s rural hospitals nervously ponder their post-Obamacare future
Hospitals executives recently delivered a dire warning about the future of rural hospitals: They’re calling themselves the canaries in the coal mine. Many of their facilities are already facing a financial crisis. Konnie Martin, the CEO of San Luis Valley Health in Alamosa, is one of them. The hospital has benefitted financially from the expansion of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Martin said. Four hours northwest of Alamosa, in Colorado’s rugged high country, is the Delta County Memorial Hospital, which has a similar story. Both rural hospitals are on a list of eight the Colorado Hospital Association says are in critical condition, in danger of closing. (Colorado Public Radio)

Mental illness and heart disease are often found in the same patients
Cardiovascular disease and mental illness are among the top contributors to death and disability in the United States. At first glance, these health conditions seem to lie at opposite ends of the medical spectrum: Treating the heart is often associated with lab draws, imaging and invasive procedures, whereas treating the mind conjures up notions of talk therapy and subjective checklists. Yet researchers are discovering some surprising ties between cardiac health and mental health. These connections have profound implications for patient care, and doctors are paying attention. (Washington Post)

Bleeding, talking mannequins prep Arizona health care workers for patient crisis
Volunteers and anatomically correct mannequins that bleed, breathe and talk helped health care professionals strengthen their lifesaving skills recently in Phoenix. Seventy-five health professionals participated in the intensive two-day training that simulated patients in crisis at the University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine-Phoenix Center for Simulation and Innovation. Dr. Robert Raschke, an assistant clinical professor at UA College of Medicine who organized the conference, said the plan was for conferencegoers to “go through scenarios and help the participants see how they can avoid a bad outcome.” (Arizona Republic)

The Affordable Care Act: The view from a hospital CEO
Health care in the U.S. appears to be heading toward dramatic changes for the second time in less than a decade. As president and chief executive of New York-Presbyterian, Steven Corwin will have to maneuver a system with 10 through what may be years of regulatory uncertainty and upheaval for U.S. hospitals. But no clear picture has emerged yet of how the ACA’s provisions for private insurance and the government’s Medicaid program might change—or when. The Wall Street Journal spoke with Dr. Corwin in December and again in early February about the risks and opportunities for hospitals during this time of transition. Here are edited excerpts of those conversations. (Wall Street Journal)

GOP health plan: Lower costs, better care, or road to ruin?
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. The GOP package lacks details, which are a work in progress, and has no estimates of cost or the number of people it would serve. It’s also uncertain if enough Republicans would support it. (Associated Press)

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