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

Iowa News

Medicaid firms spending less on care for Iowa’s poor, disabled
The three private firms running Iowa’s Medicaid program have found ways to trim spending on care for the poor or disabled Iowans they cover, a new report suggests. But all three continue to lose tens of millions of dollars on the controversial project. The companies’ per-member monthly spending on health care for adults fell by as much as 28 percent from the three months ending in September 2016 to the three months ending in December 2016, the new report shows. Governor Terry Branstad’s office touted the new report as representing “unprecedented transparency” in how the giant health-care program is run. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa Medicaid insurers pay more in claims than they get from the state
For the third consecutive quarter, the three private insurers managing the state’s Medicaid program paid out more in claims than they were paid by the state, causing the insurers to see losses between 11 percent and 27 percent, according to Department of Human Services data out Wednesday morning. The quarterly report helps shed additional light on the insurance companies’ financial losses reported earlier in March in Iowa Insurance Division filings. Governor Terry Branstad said Wednesday that the private insurers have plenty of experience administering Medicaid programs in other states and anticipate start-up costs. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Iowa lawmakers brace for tough budget choices
Iowa’s downward revenue projection slide has created major ripples in state budgets as Governor Terry Branstad and GOP legislators look to backfill an immediate $131 million gap with reserves and begin to fashion spending plans for the next two fiscal years shaken by this week’s taxing developments. Budget-makers also project Iowa’s Medicaid program will need $42 million in the coming fiscal year, along with other funding needs that are putting a crunch on the budget even before Republicans have fashioned their fiscal 2018 spending targets. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Minnesota health care groups don’t back GOP replacement bill
The primary groups representing Minnesota doctors and hospitals say they oppose the plan to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), citing the potential for thousands of state residents to lose coverage. The plan would be a problem for Minnesota because the state has seen a dramatic reduction in the rate of uninsured residents under ACA, according to the Minnesota Hospital Association. The group stressed how the current law helped drive the rate of Minnesotans lacking coverage to a historic low of 4 percent which has helped hospitals by reducing uncompensated care costs. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

GOP health bill worries rural Oregon
Oregon’s decision to expand eligibility for Medicaid in 2014 led to increased enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program. And the trend of expanded coverage is across rural Oregon. Uncertainty has plagued many citizens throughout the beginning of the new administration and the insurance plan is no different. The irony is many of the poor, rural districts that voted for President Donald Trump — who supports the new health care legislation — stand to lose the most from the plan. The result is an increased amount of debt for the hospital because patients won’t be able to afford insurance coverage, let alone their bills. (Coos Bay World)

Obamacare repeal could hurt rural areas — a key Trump constituency
Republicans from rural states increasingly are worried that their party’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would inflict damage on vulnerable communities, especially the poor and middle-aged in isolated areas whose votes helped catapult Donald Trump into the White House. The concerns are a byproduct of this week’s nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analysis of the GOP replacement, which highlighted multiple ways that the health care plan falls far short of Trump’s campaign promise to keep Medicaid intact and to create a system that provides “insurance for everybody.’’ (Boston Globe)

Obamacare pushed nonprofit hospitals to do good beyond their walls. Now what?
Requiring a “community health needs assessment” was part of a broader package of rules included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to ensure that nonprofit hospitals justify the tax exemption they receive. “There’s no question ACA required us to bump up our game,” said Joan Quinlan, its vice president for community health at Massachusetts General Hospital. If people lose coverage, it could stifle efforts to promote more substantial community benefit. That scenario would increase the amount of free care nonprofit hospitals provide, creating new budget pressures that could lead them to tamp down on efforts to promote community health work. (Kaiser Health News)

GOP leaders acknowledge health bill changes, may delay vote
Their health care overhaul imperiled from all sides, top House Republicans acknowledged Wednesday they would make changes to the legislation in hopes of nailing down votes and pushing the party’s showpiece legislation through the chamber soon. House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to commit to bringing the measure to the House floor next week, a fresh indication of uncertainty. Republican leaders have repeatedly said that was their schedule, but opposition mushroomed after a congressional report concluded this week that the measure would strip 24 million people of coverage in a decade. (Associated Press/ABC News)

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