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

Iowa News

Hospitals across Iowa facing nursing shortages
Hospitals across the state are scrambling to fill nursing positions, with hundreds of openings in the Des Moines area alone. “Just seeing what nurses do, it’s miraculous,” said Deb Moyer, chief nurse executive at Unity Point Health in Des Moines. What is not miraculous is just how few of them there are in the state. Unity Point in Des Moines currently has around 170 nursing positions open, St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids has 71, Broadlawns has 15 vacancies and Boone County Hospital has eight. Nurses say they need the profession to grow quickly the shortage will not be over any time soon. (WHO)

Limits on medical malpractice lawsuits passes Iowa Senate
Legislation aimed at limiting medical malpractice lawsuits won approval in the Senate Monday after a heated debate over the rights of patients hurt by negligent health care against the need to help Iowa attract more physicians. The bill includes provisions governing doctor-patient communications after adverse medical incidents; capping limits on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, at $250,000; requiring a “certificate of merit” to screen out frivolous litigation and establishing standards for expert witnesses. The bill’s supporters include the Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Health Care Association, Iowa Medical Society and other medical organizations. (Des Moines Register)

Des Moines Register to help Iowans follow health care debate
Health care is personal. Health care is also big business. With so much at stake it’s no wonder Congress can find little common ground on health care policy. Actions at the state and federal levels in coming months could affect the quality and cost of health care available for years to come. And across the country, hospitals could struggle financially depending on what Congress ultimately decides. The Des Moines Register’s health care reporter, Tony Leys, will spend much of his time in coming months reporting on how federal health law changes will affect Iowans. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Already in peril, rural hospitals unsure on health care bill
Rural hospitals have long struggled, with patients who are older, suffer from chronic illnesses and face few insurance options, if they’re insured at all. Most rural hospitals have a higher-than-normal percentage of Medicaid patients; expected cuts to the federal program for low-income residents will affect facilities everywhere, but experts and administrators are particularly worried about rural areas. And for many rural health care workers, the GOP’s new plan isn’t calming nerves. When rural hospitals are forced to close, the effects reverberate, a 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation study shows. (Associated Press/ABC News)

As ACA repeal vote nears, Kansas debates on expanding Medicaid
Kansas lawmakers know they are late to the Medicaid expansion party, but they appear determined to show up anyway. “I feel like now is as good a time as any,” says Anthony Hensley, the leader of the Democratic minority in the state Senate. Congress’ bill replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would not immediately close the expansion window for states that have not acted, says Tom Bell, president of the Kansas Hospital Association. An estimated 300,000 Kansans would qualify for coverage under expansion, though only about half that number are expected to initially enroll. (KCUR)

GOP’s Medicaid cuts could affect thousands in SC
South Carolina’s must vulnerable citizens could lose access to health care if massive Medicaid cuts proposed by congressional Republicans become law. The American Health Care Act – President Donald Trump and the GOP House leadership’s plan to replace and repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law – would make big changes to Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor. “This is all about the federal government wanting to save a bunch of money and shifting the risk to the states, and South Carolina is one of the states that can least afford it,” said Sue Berkowitz, director of the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center. (Columbia State)

Trump to Capitol in last-ditch lobbying for health care bill
President Donald Trump is rallying support for the Republican health care overhaul by taking his case directly to GOP lawmakers at the Capitol, two days before the House plans a climactic vote that poses an important early test for his presidency. Top House Republicans unveiled revisions to their bill in hopes of nailing down support. Trump’s closed-door meeting with House Republicans was coming as party leaders released 43 pages worth of changes to a bill whose prospects remain dicey. Their proposals were largely aimed at addressing dissent that their measure would leave many older people with higher costs. (Associated Press/ABC News)

CMS delays expansion of bundled payment programs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has delayed the expansion of a major bundled payment pilot, Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement, and the implementation of its bundled payment initiatives for cardiac care from July 1 to October 1, 2017, according to an interim final rule. It also delayed several other payment programs. The Trump administration’s move to delay mandatory initiatives raises questions about the future of government initiatives to usher health care out of fee-for-service operations and into a new age of value-based payment. Hospitals likely will feel varying degrees of the impact of the implementation delay. (Modern Healthcare)

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