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

Iowa News

Don’t change Iowa’s Certificate of Need health care review system
Iowa has one of the highest quality, lowest cost health care systems in the United States. And at the heart of that system are 118 community hospitals that stand ready, day and night, to serve everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. A significant reason for health care excellence in Iowa has been state management of institutional health care services through the Certificate of Need law. Today, with the uncertainties surrounding the future of the Affordable Care Act, Iowa’s Medicaid program and even Medicare, the constancy of Certificate of Need is more important than ever. (Decorah News)

Iowans unsure about privatized Medicaid
Iowa’s decision to hire private companies to run its Medicaid program has more than twice as many detractors as fans, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows. However, more than half of Iowans don’t know what to make of the situation, the poll suggests. The controversial shift to private Medicaid management was pushed through last year by Governor Terry Branstad. Thirty-three percent of Iowans say it has been a bad change, and just 13 percent say it has been a good change, the new poll shows. Fifty-four percent of poll participants are unsure. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa’s private Medicaid insurers to lose $450 million in first year
The three private insurers managing the state’s nearly $5 billion Medicaid program expect their one-year losses cumulatively to reach $450 million, they told legislators on Wednesday morning during a joint Senate and House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meeting. Pressed by lawmakers to give “ballpark” figures as to what the state can expect to see in end-of-year reports, AmeriHealth Caritas said it anticipates to have lost upward of $200 million; Amerigroup will have lost $150 million and UnitedHealthcare said it expects to have lost around $100 million. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

What’s the matter with KanCare? Challenges on four fronts
KanCare is a $3 billion program that provides health insurance to more than 425,000 Kansans — complex and bureaucratic by its nature. And lately it seems the privatized Medicaid program has drawn more than its share of complaints from Kansas medical providers, beneficiaries and applicants. Some are the result of a switch in 2013 to management not by the state but instead by three private insurance companies, while others stem from court rulings or policymaker decisions. Complaints generally fall into one of four issues: application backlog, reimbursement problems, expansion rejection and quality of care issues. (KCUR)

Single-payer health care bill introduced in California Senate
Legislation introduced in the California Senate last week would set the state on a path toward the possible creation of a single-payer health care system―a proposal that has failed to gain traction there in the past. A single-payer system would replace private insurance with a government plan that pays for coverage for everyone. Proponents argue that single-payer systems make health care more affordable and efficient, but opponents say they raise taxpayer costs and give government too much power. (HealthLeaders Media)

65,000 providers have been cut from state Medicaid rolls
A provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires providers to revalidate or recertify their Medicaid reimbursement eligibility has caused 65,000 providers to be stripped from the federal program, according to a Modern Healthcare analysis. Providers that enrolled in Medicaid before March 25, 2011, had to send in revalidation notices to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on or before September 25, 2016, or risk being dropped. Some states were successful in receiving revalidation notices, while others are just now evaluating their rolls because of staffing or technical limitations, according to Medicaid agency spokespeople. (Modern Healthcare)

Nation’s mayors hold ‘day of action’ on ACA
Mayors around the country held a “day of action” Wednesday to warn of the risks to their cities if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without an effective replacement. More than 50 mayors hosted town halls and other events pressing lawmakers to preserve key parts of the law, which has helped reduce the country’s uninsured rate to a record low. Especially vulnerable to losses are what are known as “safety net” hospitals, which serve mostly low-income patients and saw their uncompensated care costs drop significantly under the ACA. According to the trade group America’s Essential Hospitals, those providers could lose more than $40 billion over the next decade if the law is repealed. (Marketplace)

Two tax issues dividing Republicans on Obamacare
Republican lawmakers are objecting to two key elements of their party’s plan to replace Obamacare, creating obstacles in the road to repeal. Conservatives worry a tax credit to assist people with the cost of insurance, which would help people maintain or get coverage, will be too costly and that recipients might abuse the government help. Objections also are being raised against a proposal to open up some employer-sponsored health insurance plans to taxation. Some Republicans worry that proposal is essentially a new version of Obamacare’s much-reviled “Cadillac tax.” (The Hill)

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