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Iowa News

Iowans voice concerns as broad gun bill advances
A wide-ranging firearms bill that covers everything from youth handgun use to carrying weapons in the Des Moines Capitol proved contentious as the legislation received its first public hearing Thursday. The bill would pre-empt local ordinances that restrict firearms use at public facilities such as universities and hospitals, among others. A wide range of groups have lined up in opposition, including the Iowa Hospital Association. Jim Atty, CEO of the city-owned Waverly Health Center, said stress and tensions can run high in the emergency department. Fights have broken out, and he said he’s concerned about what could happen if somebody in those situations was to be carrying a gun. (Des Moines Register)

Young: Congress doesn’t have the votes to toss Obamacare
Lawmakers may make substantial changes to Obamacare, but Congress doesn’t possess the political will to fully repeal the controversial health care legislation, U.S. Representative David Young (R-IA) told a fiery crowd of constituents Thursday. “The Affordable Care Act is not going to be repealed outright,” Young said at forum at Living History Farms, “because there’s not the votes and there’s not the support.” Like other Republicans returning to their home districts, Young was greeted with a liberal-leaning crowd angry over the direction of President Donald Trump’s administration, but managed to score some points as he distanced himself from Trump on some issues. (Des Moines Register)

Medicaid poll result disappointing
In regard to the Iowa Poll for private Medicaid, unless one is directly involved with Medicaid privatization, then “not sure,” as was chosen by 54 percent of respondents, may be a reasonable answer to the question “Has Medicaid privatization been a good or bad change?” However, if one is a family member, caregiver or providing services to disabled people, Deb Pape of West Des Moines would expect the answer to the original poll question to have been a much higher percentage of “No, it has not been a good change.” She is the primary legal guardian of an adult autistic son who relies on Medicaid and thinks the first question of the poll should have been “Do you know anyone affected by Medicaid privatization?” (Des Moines Register)

Phase one of dialysis center project complete
Plans for Spencer Hospital’s expanded dialysis services have continued to move forward. Last September, the hospital’s board of trustees approved plans to begin interior demolition of a hospital-owned building. The hospital plans to relocate the Warner Dialysis Center to the location once the project is completed. The interior demolition was completed in November and, as of Thursday, the board approved bid letting for the construction phase of the project. Hospital Vice President of Operations Steve Deutsch explained that the initial floor plan for the facility has been drafted. (Spencer Daily Reporter)

Grammy winner playing music in Cedar Rapids hospital for years
Middays on Friday, music drifts through the UnityPoint St. Luke’s Helen G. Nassif Pavilion. An angelic sound that brings a little cheer to people having to spend part of their day in a hospital lobby. The source isn’t a well-hidden speaker, it’s a well-hidden person, Ron Levine. Ron’s a volunteer who’s been playing in a semi-secret spot for about two years now – some of it spent keeping a secret of his own – Ron is a 1981 Grammy award winning country artist. Ron was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 30 years ago and his weekly music sessions at the hospital double as musical therapy. (KCRG)

National News

Why the health care industry isn’t keen on Medicaid reform
President Trump and Republicans have made it clear they want to change Medicaid in a way that reduces spending and gives states more leeway to operate their programs. But that financial blow faces resistance from hospitals and others who rely on Medicaid’s already tight resources. Safety net hospitals, rural facilities and community health centers would be most affected in the industry by the cuts that result from block grants or per capita caps, since they treat more Medicaid patients. Many consumers also haven’t been thrilled about shifting to Medicaid managed care. Iowa is a big case in point, where pretty much everyone is unhappy with the conversion. (Axios)

Protest builds over Pennsylvania Medicaid contracts
Winning a contract to manage part of Pennsylvania’s $12 billion in Medicaid benefits is a big prize. That’s why losing bidders with a long-term presence in the market of 2.3 million participants are not taking lightly the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ decision last month to cut them out of all or part of Medicaid management in Pennsylvania. The governor’s office and the Department of Human Services did not respond to requests for comment on the controversy surrounding the Medicaid program known as Health Choices, which carves the state into five zones. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Kansas House advances Medicaid expansion; final action next
The Kansas House on Wednesday advanced a bill expanding Medicaid to more low-income, non-elderly adults, a proposal that was denied votes and floor debates for four years. Supporters argued the increased access means patients will get primary care, decreasing expensive emergency health care costs and uncompensated care costs that hospitals incur when they treat uninsured patients. Several providers testified before the committee earlier this month and said they were struggling or laying off employees because of uncompensated care costs and cuts to the payments they receive for treating Medicare and Medicaid patients. (Associated Press/Kansas City Star)

Repeal of health law faces obstacles in House, not just Senate
Ever since Republicans got down to the business of repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Senate has been singled out as the likely problem. Any plan that could zoom through the House would hit roadblocks among Senate Republicans, many of whom have resisted a wholesale repeal of the health law without a robust replacement plan. But after weeks of loud protests, boisterous town hall meetings and scores of quieter meetings with health care professionals, patients, caregivers and hospital managers in their districts, it is becoming increasingly likely that a consensus in the House may be just as hard to reach. (New York Times)

Are health insurance marketplaces in a death spiral?
It’s been a rocky few months for the health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. Last week, national insurance giant Humana announced it would stop selling plans on the marketplace. Aetna’s chief executive claimed the marketplaces are in a “death spiral.” Republicans say the marketplaces are Exhibit A that Obamacare is collapsing. So what’s the real story? Are these things really kaput or can they be fixed? Here’s a rundown of where things stand. (Los Angeles Times)

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