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Iowa News

Iowa Hospital Association warns Iowa not to lose gains made under ACA
The Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) says it’s important not to lose the gains made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The warning comes after the insurance carriers Aetna and Wellmark announced this week that in 2018 they’ll stop selling individual policies on Iowa’s health care exchange. Insurance carriers have cited market instability and rising costs as reasons to leave health care exchanges. However, IHA argues companies could be doing more to make Obamacare work by finding ways to diversify their customer bases so that insurance pools contain greater numbers of younger, healthier people. (Iowa Public Radio)

Iowa’s 350,000 family caregivers play critical role
Legislation has been introduced that would require hospitals to record the name of the caregiver when their loved one is admitted, notify the caregiver when their loved one is to be moved or discharged and instruct the caregiver on the medical tasks they will need to perform at home. Scott McIntyre, spokesman for the Iowa Hospital Association, agreed that it is inefficient and expensive to send someone home only to have that person turn back up in the hospital. That’s why hospitals are already working to provide better discharge plans and reduce readmissions. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Grassley introduces bill to extend key Medicare rural hospital programs
Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa continued his support of rural health care, introducing bipartisan legislation last week to permanently extend key Medicare rural hospital programs critical to five Iowa hospitals and many others around the country. “These programs bring a lot of value for rural residents and taxpayers,” Grassley said. The legislation would permanently extend the Medicare Dependent Hospital and Low-Volume Hospital programs. There are currently 160 Medicare Dependent Hospitals in 30 states, including five in Iowa. (KIOW)

No answers in sight as Iowa exchange crumbles
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aetna last week both announced departures from Iowa’s exchange in 2018, citing mounting financial losses and continued “uncertainty” under Iowa’s version of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Trump’s promise to starve ACA to death all but doomed an already troubled Iowa exchange. Iowa’s exchange is quite literally falling apart amid a GOP civil war. The well-being of thousands of Iowans are at stake here. More than 50,000 benefit from taxpayer subsidized policies on Iowa exchange. Tens of thousands of Iowa’s poorest rely on the state’s already foundering Medicaid system. (Quad-City Times)

The future of Iowa’s health care system is uncertain
There were, and still are, countless critics of the privatization of Medicaid. There are numerous reports of providers not being paid by the state and that is not giving providers an incentive to come work in Iowa. The managed care organizations stated that the number of poor Iowans they would ultimately end up serving was grossly underestimated, indicating that more people need help from Medicaid than one would imagine. If the privatization of Medicaid continues to fail, it could be detrimental to the health of Iowa’s vulnerable populations and that is extremely concerning. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Rural Georgia residents are hit hard by local hospital closure
Stewart-Webster Hospital, in Richland, Georgia, is one of about 80 hospitals that have closed across the country since 2010, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When a small community loses its hospital, residents say it loses more than just its health care provider. The community also loses jobs and a sense of security that emergency help is nearby. Most that have closed are in states like Georgia that didn’t expand Medicaid coverage. (Marketplace)

Uncertain future of Obamacare leaves Michigan hospitals unsteady
The future of health care reform in Washington for the moment remains undeniably unclear. Michigan hospitals are doing everything they can to keep the money flowing under any plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Health care provided nearly 588,000 direct jobs in Michigan in 2015, nearly 228,000 in hospitals alone, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. For decades, hospitals across Michigan lost hundreds of millions of dollars to care for the uninsured. But nearly 1 million Michigan residents gained health insurance through expanded Medicaid. (Detroit Free Press)

In states, GOP blocks more Medicaid expansion
Several states led by Republican governors or GOP legislatures are still balking at Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) despite new life to increase coverage for the poor after their party’s failed “repeal-and-replace” attempt on ACA. Efforts to expand Medicaid have died in at least four states after state legislatures in Kansas and Virginia couldn’t overcome GOP opposition last week. And in Georgia and Idaho, legislatures adjourned without considering Medicaid expansion proposals. (Forbes)

‘Job-killing’ Obamacare actually created 240,000 well-paying health care jobs
Of all the shibboleths used to denigrate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), perhaps the most persistent is to label it a “job-killer.” This attack on ACA never was based on facts. But a new report from the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit health care think tank, adds evidence that, in fact, the law is a job-creator. From 2014 through 2016, the researchers found, the law triggered the creation of 240,000 jobs in the health care field alone. The main reason is that increased insurance enrollments spurred more demand for health care services. (Los Angeles Times)

GOP health plan relies on cutting payments to hospitals, doctors
A Republican health care plan to lower insurance premiums would need to cut payments to hospitals and doctors to the same level as federally-set Medicare rates and would require billions of dollars in extra government spending to meet its goals, according to an independent analysis of the policy. The Republican amendment adds what’s called the Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program to the legislation to help appease conservatives and get the bill through the House. According to Milliman Inc., such a proposal would likely cost the government far more and rely on essentially paying government-set rates paid to hospitals, doctors and other health providers to care for some sick individuals. (Bloomberg)

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