Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.
Aetna, Wellmark roil health market
Insurance providers Aetna’s and Wellmark’s recent pullout from the Iowa individual insurance market could leave almost 60,000 Iowans and hospitals across the state in limbo. Scott McIntyre, the vice president for communications at the Iowa Hospital Association, said this increased instability could leave hospitals across the state in the lurch. Two major issues with uncompensated or “charity” care McIntyre points to are that uninsured individuals tend to not have regular relationships with health care providers and tend to be treated in expensive emergency departments. (Daily Iowan)
Iowa Medicaid: How well is it working (really)?
Is Medicaid privatization a tremendous success, resulting in “healthier Iowans and better outcomes” while saving taxpayers hundreds of millions? Is it a dismal failure coming at the expense of needy Iowans and taxpayers? Or is it somewhere in between? All Iowans need and deserve clear, objective answers, not political spin. Government officials, managed care organizations, taxpayers and, most of all, clients and their advocates need to be part of the conversation. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)
Senator hears Iowans’ concerns about health care costs
Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is holding meetings around the state during the April recess. Grassley says the recent news that two companies will stop selling individual policies in the state, and the failure to get a new health care law signed, concern him. Grassley says he’d like to hear from the insurance companies if they have specific ideas about how Congress could help them stay in the Iowa individual market. (Iowa Public Radio)
UPH-Waterloo prepares to acquire CIH
UnityPoint Health (UPH)-Waterloo CEO and President Pamela Delagardelle and associates have successfully taken on many challenges. On Tuesday, the former nurse told the local Rotary Club they are ready to take on another, as UPH-Waterloo prepares to bring Central Iowa Healthcare (CIH) into the UPH-Waterloo fold. Delagardelle made it clear that she and other staff will work as a team with remaining CIH staff to bring the best possible outcomes to patients in a patient-centered approach. (Marshalltown Times Republican)
GOP bill bans underage sales of e-cigarettes online
Electronic cigarettes and other so-called vaping products sold to Iowans on the internet would be regulated for the first time under a last-minute spending bill as the GOP majority strives toward adjournment of this year’s legislative session. Under the bill, sellers would be required to obtain a permit to sell the alternative nicotine products online. And the products would be subject to the state sales tax. (Iowa Public Radio)
Hundreds rally against closure of Kansas hospital at center of Medicaid expansion debate
Several hundred people turned out Monday night to protest the possible closure of St. Francis Health in Topeka. The financial struggles of the hospital have taken center stage in the debate over whether to expand KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. Governor Sam Brownback recently vetoed an expansion bill that would have generated an additional $10 million a year in federal funding for St. Francis, according to the Kansas Hospital Association. (KCUR)
House Republicans push to repeal Florida CON law
Legislation to repeal Florida’s Certificate of Need (CON) law is expected on Wednesday to pass the Florida House. Democrats and others say getting rid of CON is unnecessary and might reduce the quality of care by overcrowding the market. “Won’t repealing CON create a two-tiered system: One for the insured living in wealthy areas and one for uninsured in low-income areas?” said Representative John Cortes, D-Kissimmee. The state’s safety net hospitals oppose repealing CON for exactly that reason. (Miami Herald)
Medicaid may require work, payments from the poor, as Indiana tried
Far more people may also have to adjust to the new reality of formerly free health coverage through Medicaid: It will cost money. As once-reluctant Republican governors consider expanding Medicaid to their lowest income residents, the Medicaid plan developed by the now-head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and approved by former Indiana governor, now Vice President, Mike Pence is the one many are expected to model. (USA Today)
Detroit program to train hospital patient sitters, care associates
Three major hospital systems in Detroit are partnering with the city to train Detroiters for entry-level health care jobs. The Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System and St. John Providence will provide training and placement opportunities for 240 city residents over the next 12 months for patient sitter and patient care associate jobs. “The need to fill health care jobs continues to increase, especially the need for patient care associates,” said Focus: HOPE CEO Jason Lee. Focus: HOPE will provide services to the trainees. (Michigan Live)
Health insurers asked for reassurance on Obamacare. They didn’t get it.
Health insurance executives seeking certainty on the future of federal funds that help lower-income Americans with their out-of-pocket health care costs got no commitment that they would be paid next year in an hour-long meeting with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). A CMS official confirmed that Verma “did not comment” on the payments, called cost-sharing reductions, at the meeting and told those gathered that it was a decision to be made by Congress. (Washington Post)