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

Iowa News

GOP bill to help entrepreneurial physicians stalls
Governor Terry Branstad’s goal to open up more competition in the health care industry ran into some serious trouble at the statehouse Wednesday. A bill to clear the way for more for-profit health care facilities failed to clear a Republican-dominated panel. The governor wanted to do away with the state’s Certificate of Need program that requires new health care facilities to prove there’s a need for their services. Hospital executives say if the bill is passed, they would lose income from those profitable services that helps pay the bills for full-service 24-7 medical care. Hospital executives were on hand from communities across the state, urging for the bill’s defeat. (Iowa Public Radio)

Hospitals fight effort to loosen reins on new health care facilities
Iowa hospital executives descended on the Statehouse Wednesday to defend a hurdle that developers must clear before building or expanding health care facilities. The hospital leaders say they want to keep for-profit companies from setting up shop in Iowa and bleeding community hospitals by siphoning off well-paying services. The controversy focused on House File 422, which would have sharply curtailed the state’s Certificate of Need process. Representative Rob Taylor (R-West Des Moines) was one of three legislators on a subcommittee, who were surrounded by about three dozen health care executives and lobbyists. (Des Moines Register)

Branstad appoints Bettendorf’s Harold Miller to health facilities council
Governor Terry Branstad has appointed a new member to Iowa’s Health Facilities Council, the five-member panel that decides whether to grant permission to build new health care facilities in the state. The council has played a key role in the controversy over a Memphis-based company’s efforts to build a 72-bed psychiatric hospital in Bettendorf. Branstad has selected Dr. Harold Miller of Bettendorf and Brenda Perrin of Cherokee to be on the council. Miller is a prominent physician in the state who has served as a board member and president of the Iowa Medical Society and chair of its delegation to the American Medical Association. (Quad-City Times)

Hancock county economic growth
According to a new report from the Iowa Hospital Association, hospitals have made a huge economic impact in Iowa. For example, Hancock County Health System generated more than 200 hundred jobs that added $10 million dollars to the local economy. Lauara Zwiefel, chief nursing officer and assistant administrator at the Hancock County Health System says health care is ever growing and changing and her goal is to continue to meet the needs of the community. “So it is absolutely incumbent upon us to stay up on technology, to hire the best and brightest people and provide services to the patients,” says Zwiefel. (KIMT)

SMCH begins implementation of telehealth services at hospital and clinic
Based on the results of a community needs assessment survey in the fall of 2015, administrators at Stewart Memorial Community Hospital (SMCH) in Lake City began addressing their patient’s responses that requested more specialists be brought into the area. In answer to that, SMCH has begun implementing telehealth in their emergency department and clinical settings to increase access to specialty care. CEO, Cindy Carstens, says they will also be working to expand telehealth services as they continue to recruit more specialists. (CBC Online)

National News

Results mixed in states that stopped requiring approval for new hospitals
Florida lawmakers will consider whether to repeal the Certificate of Need (CON) laws that regulate the opening of new hospitals and other health care facilities. Mary Vaughan-Sarrazin, a professor at the University of Iowa, has published multiple studies examining CON regulations. Her research supported a theory that consolidating specialized procedures at a few facilities ensures those health care teams do more procedures, gaining experience and expertise. Michael Rosko, a business professor at Widener University in Pennsylvania says CON helps hospitals avoid the unnecessary duplication of health care facilities and helps hospitals maintain higher occupancy rates. (Health News Florida)

Virginia health care experiment aims for healthier patients, lower costs
Vermont, with a population more rural and less diverse than the country as a whole, is embarking on an experiment that could transform the delivery of health care nationwide. Traditionally, doctors and hospitals are paid for each procedure, treatment or test they provide. But critics say this “fee for service” system drives up costs and harms patients by pushing providers to do as much as possible, regardless of whether it benefits patients. Under Vermont’s plan, to be phased in through 2022, health plans would pay doctors and hospitals based on how well they care for their patients and contain costs, rather than on the volume of services they provide. (Stateline)

Millions would lose coverage under GOP plans to cut Medicaid
The pressure of keeping those who obtained insurance because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covered continues to build after state governors gathered for their annual meeting this weekend received a sobering report on the impact of repealing the 2010 health care reform law. Republicans in Congress are floating the ideas as alternatives to rolling back Medicaid expansion made possible through the ACA. If those proposals were implemented, up to 51 percent of those who purchased coverage through the ACA marketplace could lose coverage in non-expansion states, while those that did expand Medicaid eligibility could see coverage slashed by 30 percent. (Modern Healthcare)

Decisive action by communities can reduce health disparities and improve lives
A new report from the National Academy of Medicine’s Culture of Health program estimates that racial health disparities are projected to cost health insurers $337 billion between 2009 and 2018. “Communities in Action” spotlights how communities are working together to create pathways to health equity. By addressing factors well beyond access to health insurance, cities like Indianapolis, Buffalo, Minneapolis, San Antonio and Los Angeles are seeding the conditions needed to enjoy full, healthy lives. Although their approaches differ, these community efforts consistently bring a shared vision for promoting health equity. (STAT)

Trump chooses Pence ally to lead Medicaid
Brian Neale has been tapped by the Donald Trump administration as the new director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, according to the agency’s former director Cindy Mann familiar with the selection. He will report to Seema Verma, Trump’s pick for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator once she is confirmed by the Senate. Neale didn’t immediately return a request for comment on his new appointment. Neale most recently was ‎executive director at the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee and served as health care policy director for Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor of Indiana. (Modern Healthcare)

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