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

Iowa News

Conner takes the reins at Skiff Medical Center
With only a couple of weeks on the job, new Skiff Medical Center President Laurie Conner is already right at home in Newton. Conner, who officially started in the position on March 19, previously worked at Skiff during its transition and integration to become a Mercy Health Network hospital. Prior to her work at Skiff, Conner served nine years as CEO at the Dallas County Hospital in Perry and worked as the administrator and vice president of Mercy West Lakes. (Newton Daily News)

LRH receives grant for diagnostic tool from charitable trust
Patients at Lakes Regional Healthcare will soon benefit from access to the latest computed tomography (CT) diagnostic technology made possible through a grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program. “CT studies are essential for the appropriate diagnosis of various injuries and conditions, and clear and detailed images are imperative,” Jason Harrington, President and CEO, Lakes Regional Healthcare said. (Dickinson County News)

Financial math may help build a better HIV vaccine
What do particle diffusion in liquids and stock price prediction have to do with building a better HIV vaccine? According to University of Iowa microbiologist Hillel Haim, you can apply concepts from the first two to predict the evolution of HIV surface proteins, information that can then be used to design better vaccines. In both HIV evolution and the stock market, randomness itself has a defined and frequently predictable structure that can be used to predict how the system will evolve. (Iowa Now)

Iowa hospital provides cost estimates to potential patients
Last year, the Henry County Health Center in Iowa started providing patients with a cost estimate along with pre-surgery medical advice. The 25-bed rural hospital in the southwest corner of the state implemented the protocol because of mounting unpaid bills from insured patients, a group that had previously not raised red flags. Since US hospitals do not want to end up footing the bill, they are now experimenting with pre-payment strategies for patients. (Reuters)

National News

Verma recuses self from Indiana, Iowa waiver talks
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma has recused herself from weighing in on any decisions involving Indiana and Iowa’s Medicaid expansion waivers, according to an agency spokeswoman. The news comes just days after Kaiser Health News reported that she had recused herself from talks around Kentucky’s pending Medicaid waiver. Before joining CMS, Verma was an industry consultant and advised Indiana, Iowa and Kentucky on how to overhaul their Medicaid programs. (Modern Healthcare)

Maps show a dramatic rise in health insurance coverage under ACA
New data from the US Census Bureau presents the most detailed picture yet of the dramatic rise in the number of people covered by health insurance since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect. County-level data going back to 2010, when the law was signed, shows a patchwork of people living without health insurance that ticked down slowly for the first three years under ACA. But, once the online insurance exchanges opened at the end of 2013 and Medicaid expanded, the population living without coverage dropped noticeably. (NPR)

Bill looks to address dearth of underserved areas with foreign doctors
A bipartisan group of senators wants to address the need for doctors in rural and poor areas by increasing the number of foreign physicians allowed to practice in the US. This week, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) re-introduced legislation that would expand the number of physicians who could participate in the Conrad Waiver 30 program. (Modern Healthcare)

Voluntary value-based reforms associated with greater readmissions reductions
Hospitals participating in certain voluntary valued-based reforms have reduced their readmissions more than hospitals participating in only the mandatory Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, according to a new study. The study found that hospitals achieving meaningful use under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs or participating in Medicare’s Accountable Care Organizations or Bundled Payment for Care Initiative achieved greater reductions in readmissions. (JAMA Internal Medicine)

Diabetes on rise among children, teens
New diabetes cases among youths increased 4.8 percent a year for type two and 1.8 percent a year for type one between 2002 and 2012, according to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine. “Because of the early age of onset and longer diabetes duration, youth are at risk for developing diabetes related complications at a younger age,” said Giuseppina Imperatore, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (New England Journal of Medicine)

Trump administration issues final rule on stricter Obamacare enrollment
The Trump administration on Thursday issued a final rule that will shorten the Obamacare enrollment period and give insurers more of what they say they need in the individual insurance market, likely making it harder for some consumers to purchase insurance, health care experts said. It could also raise out-of-pocket medical expenses, the experts said, because it gives insurers more flexibility in determining the value of their coverage. (Reuters)


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