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

Iowa News

‘Repeal and replace’ easier said than done
Republicans have kept the Affordable Care Act in their crosshairs ever since then-President Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress pushed it through, over GOP objections, seven years ago. Donald Trump and most every Republican railed against Obamacare during last year’s campaign, vowing to “repeal and replace” it. And so, after Republicans won the White House and majorities in both chambers of Congress, they set about to make good on that campaign pledge. No one should be surprised by that. What might be surprising, at least to those politicians now in power, is that their “repeal-and-replace” promise is easier said than done. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

Dubuque ACA supporters rally in final hours before GOP health care vote
In the final hours before a crucial House vote on healthcare, white bags littered Dubuque’s Washington Park, Wednesday evening. All of them filled with a candle. Dozens of Affordable Care Act (ACA) supporters placed the 450 luminaries there, each represented 100 people expected to lose coverage in Iowa’s First District if the ACA is dropped. “Obviously, that’s too many,” said Helen Varner, an organizer of the rally. But that reality now seems less likely to this group as more and more Republicans have jumped ship, coming out against the Affordable Healthcare Act. (KCRG)

King lone ‘yes’ vote on health care bill among Iowa’s House members
With a key vote looming Thursday, Iowa’s entire congressional delegation has staked out positions on the Republican health care proposal aimed at repealing and replacing Obamacare. Three Iowa members, U.S. Representatives David Young, Rod Blum and Dave Loebsack — two Republicans and a Democrat — have announced they oppose the measure and will vote “no” on Thursday. The delegation’s other Republican, U.S. Representative Steve King, says he will support the bill. The ardent conservative from the state’s most conservative district was “undecided” and “leaning no” on the bill as recently as Wednesday morning. (Des Moines Register)

Another Iowa hospital closes psychiatric unit
Oskaloosa’s hospital has shuttered its inpatient psychiatric unit, compounding a chronic shortage of options for southeast Iowans suffering mental-health crises. The Mahaska Health Partnership hospital discharged its last psychiatric inpatient Monday, CEO Jay Christensen said Wednesday. The Oskaloosa hospital is the latest in a string of Iowa hospitals that have closed or trimmed their psychiatric units over the past several years, citing financial losses. Patient advocates say southeast Iowa is particularly short of such facilities, especially since the state closed its Mount Pleasant mental hospital in 2015. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Little agreement among GOP on health care bill next steps
House Republicans had hoped to vote on a bill to partially repeal and replace the landmark 2010 health care law on Thursday, seven years to the day after President Barack Obama signed it. Instead, they find themselves without the votes to do so and little agreement on their next move. The House GOP Conference’s regular Thursday weekly planning meeting, where lawmakers might have decided on next steps, was canceled Thursday morning. Progress on the bill may not be made until midday Thursday or later. (Roll Call)

High drama for Obamacare vote
President Trump and GOP leaders are pulling out all the stops to win over House conservatives to their ­ObamaCare replacement bill ahead of a crucial up-or-down vote scheduled for today. Recent developments suggested a deal that could win over House Freedom Caucus members was possible. Trump promised a group of 18 GOP lawmakers that he would support an amendment in the Senate that would repeal ­ObamaCare’s essential health benefits. That pledge, which also included a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), lawmakers said, was enough to bring on board a key conservative, Representative Steve King (R-Iowa). (The Hill)

Obamacare repeal threatens a quiet revolution in how US cities care for poor
Over the last four years, Denver, Colorado has quietly transformed how it cares for its poorest residents. Republican legislation to roll back Obamacare threatens to not only strip Medicaid coverage from millions of poor Americans, but also to take away the funding that has allowed communities like Denver to build better systems to care for them. That is fueling rising alarm in cities such as Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Boston, where safety net hospitals have also used Obamacare’s insurance expansion to take on underlying challenges that make lower-income Americans sick, including unsafe housing, poor diet and untreated mental illness. (Los Angeles Times)

GOP lawmakers slammed Obamacare for Medicare cuts. Trumpcare doesn’t undo them
In letter after letter, Republican lawmakers have reminded their constituents: Obamacare cut Medicare. Implied, and sometimes stated outright, was that the GOP’s own plan should instead bolster the program. “Any reforms must protect Medicare,” Congressman Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, wrote in a letter last month to one of his constituents about the Affordable Care Act’s failures and his party’s own plans. But the bill now working its way through Congress does not reverse those cuts. Instead, Republicans for now appear committed to keeping this reviled part of the law. (Stat)

Virginians with disabilities and mental illness raise concerns over GOP health care bill
Governor Terry McAuliffe and advocates for Virginians with disabilities and mental illness have raised concerns about how the Republicans’ proposed health care bill would impact the state. The bill’s latest iteration could reduce Virginia’s Medicaid funding by $708 million over the next decade, Joe Flores, deputy secretary of Health and Human Resources, said late Wednesday afternoon. More than 11,200 people are on a waiting list for disability services funded through Medicaid as of this week, officials with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services said. People diagnosed with serious mental illness stand to lose access to doctors if the bill is approved. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

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