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

Iowa News

GOP health plan would hit Iowa especially hard
After seven years, US House Republicans have finally unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It immediately went over like a lead balloon with pretty much everyone, including doctors, hospitals, insurers and advocacy groups. Iowa, currently a largely red state with many older residents and a governor who expanded Medicaid, will feel disproportionate pain. There are the tens of thousands of Iowans who will eventually lose Medicaid coverage. Governor Terry Branstad used the expansion offered under Obamacare to extend coverage to low-income Iowans and eventually help fund his Medicaid privatization mess. All that could fall apart. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa Faces $131M Shortfall for Current Budget
Iowa is taking in less revenue than expected and must address a new shortfall of about $131 million to its current budget, financial analysts announced Tuesday in releasing data that could spell deep cuts for the next spending year. The news from the three-member Revenue Estimating Conference means Iowa will need to plug a deficit to the budget year that went into effect last summer and ends June 30. The governor’s office and at least one key Republican quickly endorsed tapping into cash reserves instead of cuts to state government — as long as the money was repaid. (Associated Press/U.S. News & World Report)

Mercy Auxiliary honors volunteers, makes donations
Mercy Auxiliary’s members gathered Friday to celebrate their achievements over the last year. Auxiliary President Marilou Finn announced Friday that over the past year, 218 area residents have served as active volunteers for the Auxiliary, logging a total of 31,199 hours of work – a number that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the community. Finn also announced the group raised $76,057.73 throughout the year. Additionally, a total of $10,000 in scholarships was given to the Mercy Healthcare Foundation and a $63,000 donation was announced to fund emergency room vein finders at Mercy Medical Center-Clinton. (Clinton Herald)

National News

Louisiana Hospital Association: ‘deeply concerned’ about AHCA
Paul Salles, president and CEO of the Louisiana Hospital Association, released a joint statement with Jennifer McMahon, executive director of the Metropolitan Hospital Council of New Orleans, regarding the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — the GOP’s answer to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The letter states that patients and the caregivers who serve them across Louisiana are depending on Congress to make continued coverage a priority and both organizations are deeply concerned about several provisions in the AHCA. Under ACA, there have been significant investments in the health care of Louisiana residents that must be protected. (Acadiana Business)

How the House GOP bill would affect Missouri hospitals
More than 200,000 Missourians have gained insurance since the Affordable Care Act took effect. It’s not clear yet how many Missourians would lose insurance under the GOP bill but with more Missourians uninsured, hospital officials fear they would have to provide more uncompensated care. The Missouri Hospital Association estimates that the Republican plan could cost the state’s hospitals $5.5 billion over the next decade. “Hospitals could be paying for a significant portion of the new law, at the same time as uncompensated care costs explode and Medicaid comes a less reliable source of care for the poor,” said Dave Dillon, a spokesman for the association. (Springfield News-Leader)

GOP replacement plan could send hospital costs soaring again
The US hospital industry is irate about provisions in the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare that would freeze spending on expanded Medicaid coverage for 10 million people in 31 states in 2020 followed by sharply reduce federal assistance to Medicaid. As spending on Medicaid plummets, hospitals and other medical providers will incur steep losses to provide emergency treatment and services to those least able to pay for them. Medicaid payments to hospitals and other providers amounted to 90 percent of the costs of patient care in 2013, according to estimates by the American Hospital Association. (Fiscal Times)

GOP senators suggest changes for health care bill offered by House
A day after a harsh judgment by the Congressional Budget Office on the House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, nervous Senate Republicans on Tuesday suggested changes to the bill. They told Trump administration officials that they wanted to see lower insurance costs for poorer, older Americans and an increase in funding for states with high populations of hard-to-insure people. They said those changes would greatly improve the chances of Senate approval even though they might further alienate conservatives. (New York Times)

North Carolina legislation backs reimbursements for telemedicine use
Telemedicine has grown in demand in recent years, particularly aimed at individuals who live in rural and suburban areas and/or who have difficulty getting to an urban hospital campus. A requirement that insurers provide standard coverage and reimbursements for telemedicine and other digital services was introduced in a bipartisan House bill last week in North Carolina. The legislation would prohibit insurers from treating telemedicine differently solely because it is not provided as in-person delivery of service or consultations. (Winston-Salem Journal)

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