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

Iowa News

University of Iowa hospitals raise alarm over Medicaid managed care denials
Iowa’s biggest and most-profitable hospital, University of Iowa Health Care, is lowering by more than half its operating income projections for 2017 and signaling a possible shift in strategy thanks to a sharp increase in denials from Medicaid managed care payers and a corresponding drop in the hospital’s collection rate. The hospital still is seeking about $6.4 million in Medicaid reimbursements for old cases dating back 270 days or more — contributing to concerns with the bottom line. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Thanks to grant, hospital to benefit from CT technology
Patients at George C. Grape Community Hospital 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. Helmsley has awarded George C. Grape Community Hospital $400,000 for a new 64-slice CT scanner. A new CT scanner will produce high-quality images, allowing medical staff to quickly determine health status and course of treatment. (Nebraska City News-Press)

National News

Groups warn of rural health ‘crisis’ under Obamacare repeal
Rural areas would be hit particularly hard if Congress and the Trump administration don’t send clear signals that they’re committed to helping keep Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces stable next year, advocates warn. Rural areas already have fewer care options than their urban peers. A “crisis in rural counties,” is possible without more clarity, said Alan Morgan, the CEO of the National Rural Health Association, an umbrella group representing hospitals, doctors and others that work in rural areas. (The Hill)

Oregon lawmakers consider ending Medicaid expansion to shore up budget
Democratic lawmakers in Oregon are considering ending the state’s Medicaid expansion in an effort to address a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. Hospitals have benefited greatly from Medicaid expansion as they’ve seen uncompensated care costs drop from $1.3 billion in 2013 to $315 million in 2015 according to state data. Andy Davidson, president and CEO of the Oregon Hospital Association said, “We stand firm in our belief that we all must lean in to ensure that we preserve that access and coverage.” (Modern Healthcare)

Arizona hospital ERs to screen patients for signs of trafficking
A hospital chain with several hospitals in Arizona says is taking steps to counter human trafficking. Dignity Health says it has trained staff at three hospitals in the Phoenix area to look for indicators of possible human and that it has implemented mandatory screening in emergency rooms (ERs) and obstetrics departments. Dignity says trafficking victims who are identified will be referred to community agencies for support and assistance. (Associated Press/Miami Herald)

Chuck Grassley pushed for tougher scrutiny of private Medicare Advantage plans
Republican Iowa senator Chuck Grassley wants federal health officials to tighten scrutiny of private Medicare Advantage health plans amid ongoing concern that insurers overbill the government by billions of dollars every year. Grassley has asked Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials to explain why they failed to collect nearly $125 million in potential overcharges identified at five Medicare Advantage plans audited in a single year. (Healthcare Finance)

White House looking to revive Obamacare repeal before 100-day deadline
Two sources close to the health care legislative process tell CNN the White House is exploring whether to take one more stab at repealing and replacing Obamacare before President Donald Trump hits the key milestone of 100 days in office late next week. The renewed effort comes as Congress returns from recess next week and as the Trump administration is fielding questions about its legislative accomplishments during its first 100 days in office. (CNN)

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