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

Iowa News

Iowa’s Medicaid insurers each post more than $100 million in losses in first year
Two of three private insurers managing the state’s nearly $5 billion Medicaid program lost hundreds of millions of dollars during their first year of operation in the state, according to reports filed with the Iowa Insurance Division. AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa lost nearly $300 million, while Amerigroup Iowa lost more than $133 million. Those numbers were on target with what the insurers told legislators during a February committee meeting. UnitedHealthcare of the River Valley does not have to file a separate report for its Medicaid business, but the company told representatives it anticipated losing more than $100 million. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Foreign doctors provide lifeline to physician shortage
In America’s heartland, the challenge isn’t so much in finding qualified doctors. The real test is in convincing them to stay. Iowa ranked seventh in medical students per 100,000 population, but the state has one of the lowest physician-to-population ratios in the country. In other words, medical students are graduating in Iowa; they just aren’t practicing here. However, international medical graduates are starting to form attachments and a sense of place and are not necessarily waiting for a door to open elsewhere. From 2006-14, foreign doctors accounted for almost one-third of physician growth in Iowa, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. (Quad-City Times)

National News

Mental health advocates in Ohio enlist local clergy to dispel misconceptions
Ohio mental health advocates have been using a new method to reach people in the community: the pulpit. The National Alliance on Mental Illness – Franklin County and others are teaming up with faith leaders to educate them so they can, in turn, educate church, synagogue, temple and mosque members. Mental illness is far-reaching, and one in five adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness each year, according to the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. As local agencies connect with clergy members, they are finding a stigma when it comes to mental illness, even in the church. (Columbus Dispatch)

Mental health cuts stir fears in one Michigan County
If Michigan goes through with a projected $12.5-million cut in funding to Macomb County on April 1, that could mean less money for those who provide services to help mental health patients. County mental health authorities said they have cut back in other areas, including staff travel and conferences, holding provider rates and reducing hospital rates by 5 percent. But now they have to cut back in service areas for community living supports and respite support, which offers paid staff so that caregivers can take time to take care of themselves. (Detroit Free Press)

How Louisiana schools, hospitals plan to combat expected largest nursing shortage
In the coming years, starting in about 2020, hospitals expect to face the largest shortage of registered nurses in the history of modern health care. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing predicts the state will have 1,700 unfilled registered nurse positions in 2020, said Cynthia Bienemy, director of the board’s Center for Nursing. One of the ways south Louisiana hospitals are planning to fight off the projected shortage is by trying to retain talented staff. As the demand for health care continues to rise, hospitals will need to “think outside the box,” said Phyllis Pederson, dean at Our Lady of the Lake’s school. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

House Republicans unveil plan to replace health law
House Republicans unveiled on Monday their long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, scrapping the mandate for most Americans to have health insurance in favor of a new system of tax credits to induce people to buy insurance on the open market. The bill sets the stage for a bitter debate over the possible dismantling of the most significant health care law in a half-century. In its place would be a health law that would be far more oriented to the free market and would make far-reaching changes to a vast part of the American economy. (New York Times)

GOP senator: Medicaid expansion ‘better be’ preserved
A Republican senator from West Virginia is insisting that Medicaid expansion be preserved in the GOP’s Obamacare replacement proposal. Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s comments on CNN’s “New Day” Friday morning highlight the persistent divisions among conservatives over how to address the health law. She defended her state’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act – an especially divisive component of the health law among Republicans. “I have been very forceful in repeatedly saying that the expansion of Medicaid is tremendously important to 184,000 West Virginians,” Capito said. (CNN)

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