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

Iowa News

Aetna to stop selling Iowans individual health insurance plans
A second major health-insurer has decided to stop selling individual policies in Iowa. Aetna informed Iowa regulators Thursday that it had decided to stop selling such policies, which cover tens of thousands of Iowans who don’t have access to employer-provided coverage or government plans. Aetna’s move came three days after Iowa’s dominant health insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, announced that it would no longer sell individual health insurance policies in Iowa. Only one other insurer, the relatively small Minnesota carrier Medica, currently sells individual policies in most Iowa counties. (Des Moines Register)

K9 security programs boost protection and spirits at Fort Dodge hospital
The security department at UnityPoint Health Trinity Regional Medical Center is now two furry members stronger. Maple and Shadow are two K-9 security officers in training, a program the first of its kind in Iowa hospitals thanks to a special grant. Since January, the dogs have trained as patrol dogs. The dogs are being trained to obey and are also learning how to detect and de-escalate tense situations by barking commands. Hospital officials say their research shows the presence of a dog at an event involving disruptive behavior tends to quiet the situation without the uses of force or restraints. (WHO)

National News

Getting the mentally ill out of jails
A dearth of beds at state psychiatric hospitals in many parts of the country and shortages of mental health resources mean that mentally ill people who commit minor crimes often end up languishing in jails. These people get carted off to jail where their illnesses go unaddressed, increasing the odds they will commit crimes after their release. But cities, counties and states across the US are attempting to break that pattern, using law enforcement and criminal justice tools to direct those with mental illness toward treatment services that could help them control behaviors that got them into trouble. (Stateline)

While Washington fiddles, California leaders forge ideas for universal health care
As the nation’s Republican leaders huddle to reconsider their plans to “repeal and replace” the nation’s health law, advocates for universal health coverage press on in California, armed with renewed political will and a new set of proposals. Organized labor and two lawmakers are leading the charge for a single, government-financed program for everyone in the state. The proposals are fueled both by a fear of losing gains under the Affordable Care Act and a sense that the law doesn’t go far enough toward covering everyone and cutting costs. (California Healthline)

Trying to revive health bill, GOP adds $15 billion for sickest Americans
Under intense pressure from President Trump, House Republicans took a small step Thursday to revive legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, adding a $15 billion fund to help insurers pay claims for their sickest customers. Even so, Republicans said the amendment could help heal divisions in their conference and show progress to an impatient president, still smarting from a loss in his first showdown with Congress. By a party-line vote of nine to two, the House Rules Committee on Thursday gave its blessing to the proposal. (New York Times)

Freedom Caucus would back bill that got rid of three Obamacare regs
The majority of the House Freedom Caucus would vote for a health care bill that gets rid of three of Obamacare’s insurer regulations, the group’s chairman, Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC), said Thursday. The caucus has withheld its support from the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill last month, saying it does nothing to drive down insurance premiums. Vice President Pence offered this week to get rid of three regulations: essential health benefits, community rating, and guaranteed issue. But it’s unlikely that moderate Republicans would support a health care bill eliminating those regulations. (The Hill)

GOP health bill in shambles, House commences two-week break
The Republican health care bill remained in shambles Thursday as House leaders threw up their hands and sent lawmakers home for a two-week recess. GOP chiefs announced a modest amendment to curb premium increases, but internal divisions still blocked their promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “This brings us closer to the final agreement that we all want to achieve,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said of the new amendment. Ominously, lawmakers from both ends of the party who’ve opposed the GOP legislation said Thursday’s revision wasn’t enough to turn them around. (Associated Press/ABC News)

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