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

Iowa News

Insurance overhaul would cost Iowa, Illinois
As if Iowa’s embattled Medicaid system needed more stress. Iowa’s Medicaid program is already in free-fall after last year’s privatization. Recent filings from two of the three providers, showing huge financial losses, is evidence that Governor Terry Branstad should have listened to federal regulators last year and applied the brakes. Medicaid in Iowa is already nearing a tipping point. Now with Medicaid expansion, between 145,000 and 150,000 Iowans are in the program on any given week. That’s 5 percent of the state’s population now relying on Medicaid. Ending federal funding for Medicaid is the last point of contention in which Iowa and Illinois could end up in dire financial straits. (Quad-City Times)

Iowa provider groups weigh in on Affordable Care Act replacement plan
Groups representing the state’s hospitals and physicians are expressing serious concerns with House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill would tie tax credits to age rather income as well as roll back federal funding for the Medicaid expansion starting in 2020 and move the entitlement program to a per capita cap. “The Medicaid piece is the most concerning and impactful,” said Scott McIntyre, spokesman for the Iowa Hospital Association. “In terms of number of people affected — it’s more than half a million Iowans and every hospital and most everybody providing health care.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Advocates press Blum for town hall, rally in support of ACA
About a dozen people from the Cedar Valley paid a visit to U.S. Representative Rod Blum’s office Thursday in hopes of getting to talk to the Republican congressman in person, regarding repeal of Affordable Care Act (ACA). “I want him as a representative to stand up for all Iowans and for all communities, not a particular interest, and hear what the people have to say,” Redgie Blanco, of Cedar Falls, told Blum’s Cedar Falls staff person. Blum is a member of the House Freedom Caucus that has opposed the current proposal and plans to introduce its own legislation. The people who came to Blum’s office made clear they had paid attention to what has been proposed. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Grievances over Medicaid privatization aired at Shenandoah meeting
Iowa Department of Human Services officials sought feedback Thursday on Iowa’s new Medicaid system–and they got it. Health care providers and citizens aired their concerns regarding the managed care program at a public meeting in Shenandoah. Last April, Iowa switched to a privatized Medicaid system, in which three managed care organizations cover most of the state’s Medicaid recipients. Attendees included officials and staff from Shenandoah Medical Center, where layoffs were announced Thursday. Hospital officials directly linked the staff reductions to changes in Medicaid reimbursements. (KMA)

Medicaid dispute could prevent 220,000 Iowans from using Mercy hospitals, clinics
More than 220,000 poor or disabled Iowans could lose access to one of the state’s largest hospital-and-clinic systems because of a payment dispute with a Medicaid management company. The affected Iowans receive Medicaid via AmeriHealth Caritas, one of three companies the state hired last year to run the public health insurance program. AmeriHealth recently mailed letters warning that it has been unable to negotiate new contract terms with Mercy Health Network. If the two sides can’t reach a deal by June 1, the Mercy system would no longer be included in AmeriHealth’s network of health care providers. (Des Moines Register)

ACHS creates nearly $7-million impact on local economy
Adair County Health System (ACHS) generates 100 jobs that add $6,978,932 to Adair County’s economy, according to the latest study by the Iowa Hospital Association. In addition, ACHS has an impact of $1,276,133 on retail sales and this contributes $76,568 in state sales tax revenue. “We realize the importance of the community to our organization. We strive to provide quality health care to the community, but we understand the great importance of the healthy economy in the community,” said Marcia Hendricks, CEO of ACHS. (Creston News Advertiser)

National News

Republican health care plan’s impact on Medicaid expansion worries hospitals, lawmakers in Ohio
Ohio hospitals and state lawmakers are worried provisions in the long-awaited Republican legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could harm the state’s successful Medicaid expansion and the financial stability of many hospitals. Plans to reduce federal funding for the state-run insurance plan for low-income residents and to limit enrollment could once again increase the number of uninsured patients in the state, they fear. That’s bad for patients and for the bottom line of many hospitals across the state, said Ohio Hospital Association President and CEO Michael Abrams. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Obamacare has improved the insurance Pennsylvanians get through work
Obamacare gave a big helping hand to one in 12 Pennsylvanians who now have health insurance because of the law. But the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has also helped the majority of Pennsylvanians who get coverage through their job, according to Andy Carter, CEO of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the average health insurance premium paid by employers on behalf of their employees has increased by about 5 percent a year since ACA. That’s much less than the 7.3 percent annual growth during the previous decade. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Obamacare repeal seen as weakening mental health protections
House Republicans who last year made good on longstanding promises to overhaul the mental health system could roll back coverage for millions of people with mental illness and addiction problems by overhauling Medicaid as part of an Obamacare repeal package. The bill would phase out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which covers 1.2 million Americans with serious mental illness and substance abuse problems, as well as scrap baseline coverage requirements. “We are really worried about its implications for people living with mental illness and addiction issues,” said Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice president of public policy at the National Council for Behavioral Health. (Politico)

HHS doctor publicly comes out against GOP’s health care bill
The chief medical officer of the federal government’s Medicaid program publicly rebuked the Republican health care plan backed by his boss, President Donald Trump. In a reminder of the unusual political coalition growing opposed to the new proposal, Health and Human Services (HHS) Department official Andrey Ostrovsky said that he opposes the American Health Care Act crafted by Republicans in Congress and supported by Trump and HHS Secretary Tom Price. Meanwhile, the nation’s leading hospital and doctor groups are also lining up against the bill, saying they fear millions of Americans will lose coverage. (CNN)

Doctors from banned countries serve millions of Americans, analysis finds
Immigrant doctors from the six Muslim-majority countries included in President Trump’s revised travel ban play a critical role in caring for Americans, especially in many of the Rust Belt and rural areas that voted heavily for the Republican, according to an analysis by graduate students in economics at Harvard University and MIT. The economists found that these doctors, who handle about 14 million patient visits a year, are unevenly distributed across the country, often settling in areas where American doctors are reluctant to work. (Boston Globe)

Trump, Dems look for common ground on drug prices
For years, congressional Democrats have tried to pass legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for millions of beneficiaries. Now, they believe they have a not-so-secret weapon: President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, U.S. Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and Peter Welch (D-Vermont) met privately for about an hour with Trump and newly appointed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to discuss ways to combat high drug prices. They were joined by Johns Hopkins Hospital President Redonda Miller. The congressmen pitched a House bill that would expand the federal government’s ability to negotiate drug prices, and they left feeling optimistic about what Trump will do. (Kaiser Health News)

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