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

Iowa News

Legislator rips up bill to end licensing for social workers, barbers, other professionals
Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) drew applause from dozens of citizens Monday for literally tearing up a bill from Governor Terry Branstad that would have cancelled licensure requirements for social workers, mental health therapists and several other professions. However, Kaufmann said afterward that the Legislature would consider other parts of the bill. Among them is a proposal to ease requirements on proposed health care facilities. Such proposals now need a Certificate of Need to show they wouldn’t duplicate current facilities. (Des Moines Register)

CON law may change hospital’s economic impact
The Iowa Hospital Association has released a study examining the economic impact of hospitals in the state. Locally, the study found that Spencer Hospital employs 543 individuals and generated $40 million for the local economy last year. Spencer Hospital President Bill Bumgarner said the study’s findings demonstrate the hospital’s positive effect on the community. However, Bumgarner expressed some concern as to how proposed legislation may diminish the hospital’s economic impact. Specifically, Bumgarner cited state legislation aimed at altering the Certificate of Need (CON) law which would undermine the viability of hospitals in Iowa by allowing specialty facilities to develop unchecked. (Spencer Daily Reporter)

Too many uninformed about Medicaid privatization
The facts are that Iowa had a very well-run Medicaid program by the state with only a 4 percent overhead, where patients got treated and the health care providers got timely and accurate payment. Governor Terry Branstad almost unilaterally scrapped it in favor of giving it to three out-of-state private health care firms, each of which operate with 15 percent overhead, plus profit. The result has been that Medicaid enrollees have found that getting the care they need has been difficult at best, with many being denied coverage. The health care providers are either not receiving payment or payments are being made in error, causing financial difficulty for many of our doctors and hospitals. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Hospitals, both rural and urban, dread losing ground with health law repeal
Rural hospitals have long struggled to stay open. They have far fewer patients and thin profit margins. Dozens have closed across the country in recent years, mostly in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. Hospitals across the country made a high-stakes trade when they signed on to the Affordable Care Act. They agreed to massive cuts in federal aid that defrayed the cost of caring for the uninsured. In exchange, they would gain tens of millions of newly insured customers. Now that deal is in jeopardy, and many hospital executives anxiously await whatever comes next. The American Hospital Association has warned of “an unprecedented public health crisis” if the law gets hastily scuttled. (Kaiser Health News)

Minnesota hospital partnership helps people with mental illness by providing free bikes
A recent collaboration between the Nice Ride Minnesota bike share program and Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) is helping people deal with mental illness by giving them free bike memberships. The program, which starts its second year April 1, is part of a broader shift in mental health treatment to prescribe physical exercise for people with depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses. HCMC is taking it a step further, stationing a cardiologist in its mental health day treatment program to do a more intensive assessment of physical health and cardiovascular-specific treatments. It’s the only mental health program doing so in the country, according to the hospital. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Mental illness, untreated behind bars
President Trump has talked quite a bit about cracking down on a nonexistent crime wave. Rarely does he talk about the different kinds of support law enforcement needs or what actually keeps communities safe. So it might have come as a surprise to him when a member of the National Sheriffs’ Association at a White House meeting earlier this month brought up an urgent problem sheriffs’ offices all face — the mental health crisis that has filled jails to bursting with mentally ill people who would be more effectively dealt with through treatment. Mental health problems are rampant in local jails, often because the illness was a primary factor in the offensive conduct. (New York Times)

Trump: ‘Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated’
President Trump said Monday that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” as Republicans have been slow to unite around a replacement plan for Obamacare. “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said after a meeting with conservative governors at the White House. The GOP governors were in town this weekend for their annual conference and met with Trump to talk about a variety of things, but it’s likely the conversation largely focused on health care. Governors have been split on what should be done with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which brought health coverage to many even in deep-red states. (The Hill)

The political time bomb at the heart of Obamacare alternatives: Higher costs for more Americans
Republicans came into office this year promising to rescue Americans from rising healthcare bills by repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. But the party’s emerging healthcare proposals would shift even more costs to patients, feeding the very problem GOP politicians complained about under Obamacare. And their solutions could hit not only Americans who have Obamacare health plans, but also tens of millions more who rely on employer coverage or on government health plans such as Medicaid and Medicare. (Los Angeles Times)

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