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

Iowa News

Conference panel to decide Iowa health, human services budget
The $1.9 billion budget represents a 6.1 percent increase over the current year with much of the $107 million increase going to cover a Medicaid reimbursement change that represents an $87 million hit to the state general fund budget. The House did not include funds for the Iowa Juvenile Home in HF 2463. It included $5.1 million for placing girls classified as children in need of assistance, or CINA, with private providers and spending $780,000 to maintain the Toledo property. Senators earmarked $3.9 million to re-establish a 20-bed facility for delinquent girls, $1.1 million for after-care services and $2 million for CINA placements with private providers. (Quad-City Times)

Trimmed legislation on bullying discussed
The anti-bullying bill Gov. Terry Branstad proposed when the 2014 legislative session began appears unlikely to pass in these final days before adjournment, but key lawmakers are holding out hope for a scaled-back version. Legislators are discussing jettisoning the training mandates and state funding included in early versions of the bill, as well as controversial language allowing school officials to discipline students for bullying incidents that happen off school grounds. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Stop the war on the emergency room
There’s a war being waged on one of America’s most revered institutions, the emergency room. The ER, or emergency department (ED for the sake of this post) has been the subject of at least a dozen primetime TV shows. What’s not to love about a place where both Doogie Houser and George Clooney worked? Every new parent in the world knows three different ways to get to the closest ED. It’s the place we all know we can go, no matter what, when we are feeling our worst. And yet, we’re not supposed to go there. (The Health Care Blog)

New Long Island College Hospital could top $1B
The president of one of the losing bidders for 300- to 400-bed Long Island College Hospital has filed a formal protest with the State University of New York on the premise that the winning bid for SUNY’s Long Island College Hospital drastically underestimated the cost of building a new hospital at the site. (Crain’s New York Business)

Study: Initiative improves treatment time, outcomes for stroke patients
More than 1,000 hospitals participating in a national initiative launched in 2010 to reduce door-to-needle times for intravenous tissue plasminogen activator in patients with acute ischemic stroke also reduced in-hospital death and intracranial bleeding and increased the portion of patients discharged to their home, according to a study in the April 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a neurology theme issue. (Journal of the American Medical Association)

New migraine treatments show promise
Studies presented Tuesday at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting suggest that two new drugs may prevent migraines from happening. “We’ve identified a new preventive treatment for migraines, something that reduces frequency, the number of attacks and severity of attacks, how bad the attacks are,” said Dr. Peter Goadsby, co-author of both studies and professor of neurology at Kings College, London and the University of California, San Francisco. (CNN/KCCI)

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

Iowa News

Chaplains, volunteers meet patients’ spiritual needs
For Mitch Holte, the time he spends administering the Eucharist and offering blessings in hospital rooms each week is always rewarding. However, his visits with patients Friday at Mercy Iowa City were perhaps even more meaningful, given the importance of the week to his faith. It can be easy to lose track of the calendar when you’re hospitalized, says Holte, so helping patients mark Good Friday was one small way he could lift spirits. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Funding youth mental health
The Linn County Leaque of Women Voters organized a youth mental health forum at Mercy Medical Center to ask people in the Corridor to stick together. In one day, a mental diagnosis can change a life of a loved one, something Mary Ann Nelson knows all too well. “It’s difficult to deal with someone who has mental health problems because they do not believe they have mental health problems,” she said.”You are scared to death.” (KGAN)

Blue Zones kicks off in Iowa City
Hundreds turn out for Iowa City’s Blue Zones project kick off with Dan Buettner, founder and CEO of Blue Zones. The idea is to improve people’s by creating an environment where making healthy choices comes naturally. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Chris Norton rising above spinal cord injury to help others
In three years, Chris Norton, his family and friends have raised $230,000. To date, his SCI CAN Foundation has distributed $168,000 to entities like On With Life in Ankeny, Euroteam in Decorah and the Mercy Foundation in Des Moines. “It just took off. Everybody’s been getting behind it,” Norton says. He pulled it off while continuing his own rehabilitation, continuing as a full-time business management student at Luther and keeping up a heavy schedule of speaking engagements. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

National News

Health care spending’s recent surge stirs unease
A surge of insurance enrollment related to rising employment and President Obama’s health care law has likely meant a surge of spending on health care, leaving policy experts wondering whether the government and private businesses can control spending as the economy gets stronger and millions more Americans gain coverage. “Following several years of decline, 2013 was striking for the increased use by patients of all parts of the U.S. health care system,” Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, said in a statement. (New York Times)

Report: Lack of interoperability impeding health information exchange
A lack of interoperability among the data resources for electronic health records “is a major impediment to the effective exchange of health information,” according to a new report by JASON, an independent group of scientists that advises the federal government on technology. “Although current efforts to define standards for EHRs and to certify HIT systems are useful, they lack a unifying software architecture to support broad interoperability,” the report states. (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

You’re on the clock: Doctors rush patients out the door
It’s not unusual for primary care doctors’ appointments to be scheduled at 15-minute intervals. Some physicians who work for hospitals say they’ve been asked to see patients every 11 minutes. And the problem may worsen as millions of consumers who gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act begin to seek care — some of whom may have seen doctors rarely, if at all, and have a slew of untreated problems. (USA Today)

Rural Maryland lacks health care resources
Kerry Palakanis has spent most of her career as a nurse practitioner working in rural communities. She comes face to face with the everyday challenges of providing healthcare in a rural area where health disparities include higher rates of heart disease and obesity and lower life expectancy rates. “We’re akin to a Third World country,” Palakanis said. (Easton Star Democrat)

Mental and physical toll of bullying persists for decades
What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, right? Well, not when it comes to bullying. Some may still consider bullying a harmless part of growing up, but mounting evidence suggests that the adverse effects of being bullied aren’t something kids can just shake off. The psychological and physical tolls, like anxiety and depression, can follow a person into early adulthood. (Iowa Public Radio)

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

Iowa News

Iowa health care providers get C grade for value
How much value do Iowa businesses feel they’re receiving for their health care expenditures? Iowa business leaders have given their local health care providers mostly “C” grades, according to a new study published by Clive-based health benefits expert David Lind, principal of Heartland Health Research Institute. (Des Moines Business Record)

Congressman Loebsack tours Fort Madison hospital
During one of his regular visits to his district in Iowa, U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack made a stop Tuesday at the Fort Madison Community Hospital for a tour of the facility and a question and answer session with department heads. Loebsack said he tries to get to one or two of his district’s hospitals each time he’s in the state. (Fort Madison Daily Democrat)

National News

Obama to meet with health care leaders
President Obama is scheduled to meet with health insurance executives and state insurance commissioners on Thursday, just two days after ObamaCare’s special enrollment period officially closed. The meetings, which will include at least one photo-op, are a chance for the White House to telegraph unity with health insurance companies and state regulators involved with the rollout of the health care law. (The Hill)

Rates for certain diabetes-related complications fall sharply
The heart attack rate for patients with diabetes fell 68 percent between 1990 and 2010, while deaths from hyperglycemic crisis fell 64 percent, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. In addition, diabetes-related stroke cases fell 53 percent, amputations 51 percent, and end-stage renal disease cases 28 percent, the study found. (New England Journal of Medicine)

Initiative greatly reduces the number of early elective deliveries in Missouri
A two-year initiative started in 2012 by the March of Dimes Missouri Chapter and the Missouri Hospital Association has helped greatly reduce the number of early elective deliveries — deliveries scheduled by induction or cesarean for no medical reason before 39 weeks. Of the 46 participating hospitals in Missouri, 78 percent report a rate of 5 percent or less and 61 percent have had no early elective deliveries within the past six months. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Creating an integrated care business model for behavioral health
To get ready to participate in integrated care funded by bundled payments, behavioral health providers need to establish a new business model, with particular emphasis on establishing episode of care rates. “It is worth making an attempt at developing your own episode of care rate, your own bundled approach, because we have to be forward thinking,” said Jeff Capobianco, PhD, a consultant with the National Council for Behavioral Health. (Healthcare Finance News)

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

Iowa News

Iowans getting healthier, state report shows
The Iowa Department of Public Health released its 2014 Healthy Iowans Progress Report on Friday afternoon, highlighting advances the state has made toward improving residents’ health as well as remaining barriers. The state began working on a health improvement plan in May 2011, which connected health planning efforts underway across the state in the private and public sectors. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Lung and kidney recipient to speak
Born with cystic fibrosis, an inherited and chronic disease that affects many organ systems but particularly the lungs, Steve Ferkau had little hope of surviving beyond age 40 without a lung transplant. He received his gift of life on April 8, 2000, when he was given a double-lung transplant from Algona teenager Kari Westberg, who had died unexpectedly after telling her parents of her desire to be an organ donor. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

National News

Report projects health care costs to dip slightly
The Affordable Care Act’s health insurance subsidies will cost a little less than previously thought, according to a new report released Monday. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that health insurance subsidies under the so-called “Obamacare” plan will total a little more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years, instead of almost $1.2 trillion initially estimated. CBO said the 8 percent cut results largely from tighter cost controls by insurance companies offering plans on health care exchanges. (Associated Press/ABC News)

Providers lag as consumers set agenda
Health care consumers appear willing to dump the doctor’s office for cheaper and more convenient retail and remote alternatives that could amount to tens of billions of dollars in lost revenues for traditional providers if they fail to adapt, according to a report from PwC’s Health Research Institute. Despite controlling nearly 20 percent of the economy, traditional health care is years if not decades behind other industries when it comes to adopting a business model and technologies that assess and meet consumer needs. (HealthLeaders Media)

What a physician-led ACO can teach us about getting it right
When compared to larger, hospital-sponsored ACOs, rural and small physician-led ACOs face a tough challenge, because despite limited resources they need to come up with substantial upfront capital and infrastructure investment to establish a strong ACO foundation. To help ease this burden, 35 ACOs were selected to participate in the Advanced Payment Model ACO demonstration through a grant program from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. (The Health Care Blog)

Doctors overlook lucrative procedures when naming unwise treatments
When America’s joint surgeons were challenged to come up with a list of unnecessary procedures in their field, their selections shared one thing: none significantly impacted their incomes. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons discouraged patients with joint pain from taking two types of dietary supplements, wearing custom shoe inserts or overusing wrist splints after carpal tunnel surgery. The surgeons also condemned an infrequently performed procedure where doctors wash a pained knee joint with saline.  (Kaiser Health News)

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

Iowa News

New hope for liver cancer patients
A new surgical technique that takes advantage of the regenerative capability of the liver is giving new hope to patients with advanced liver cancer. The procedure is known as Associating Liver Partition with Portal Vein Ligation for Staged Hepatectomy, or ALPPS. The method has been used internationally for about five years and Iowa Methodist Medical Center is one of only a handful of hospitals in the United States to offer it. Dr. Qasim Chaudhry, transplant surgeon with The Iowa Clinic, performs the surgery at the Iowa Methodist Transplant Center. (Des Moines Register)

Filling the gap: Siouxland faces paid caregiver shortage
UnityPoint at Home, Arnold said, is partnering with St. Luke’s College to give nursing students an opportunity to spend time training in the home environment. Mike Stiles, the college’s chancellor, said he doesn’t think hospitals will struggle to find certified nursing assistants and nurses in the near future as much as home care companies will. “I think there will be a lot more care provided in places and settings other than the hospitals, and that’s where we’re going to have shortages, particularly because the skill sets that are necessary haven’t been fully determined yet,” he said. (Sioux City Journal)

As sales of painkillers grow, so do overdose deaths
Many experts say the trend began about 15 years ago, when national officials urged doctors to consider pain a “fifth vital sign,” to be considered as seriously as breathing, pulse, temperature and blood pressure. The Trust for America’s Health, a national group that tracks prescription-drug problems, reported last year that Americans’ purchases of prescription painkillers had quadrupled since 1999. Iowa’s prescription-drug problem is not as severe as many other states’. The Trust for America’s Health last year estimated Iowa had the seventh-lowest overdose death rate in the country. (Des Moines Register)

Mental health services revamped in north Iowa
Referrals are being accepted for mental health services for Medicaid-eligible children and adults being initiated in eight North Iowa counties. Magellan Integrated Health Home support services is available for Medicaid-eligible adults with serious mental illness and children covered by Medicaid who are experiencing serious emotional disturbances, said Anne Marie Wadle, director of the new Integrated Health Team at the Mental Health Center of North Iowa. (Mason City Globe Gazette)

National News

Sebelius praises Obamacare, concedes rollout was botched
Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that the health insurance exchanges that are now up and running across the country have given uninsured Americans a true choice of insurance plans with price comparisons. “People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market,” Sebelius said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” (Los Angeles Times)

Here are the biggest problems for Obamacare’s next leader
If Sylvia Mathews Burwell is confirmed as the next secretary of Health and Human Services, it puts her in charge of a sprawling health-care overhaul that’s still gaining its footing and is under constant attack from opponents. The Obama administration is celebrating the more than 7.5 million people who have signed up for coverage in Obamacare health insurance marketplaces, but there are big implementation challenges for the next HHS leader. Here are the major challenges the next HHS chief will face. (Washington Post)

How will Boomer, Gen-X, Millennial doctors respond to healthcare changes?
With American health care in the midst of rapid transformation, both doctors and patients will be forced to adapt to changes stemming from the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Of course, everyone responds to change differently. But is it possible to predict how doctors will adapt to health care reform based on the year they were born? The answer may surprise some patients and even force them to think differently about who provides their care in the future. (Forbes)

Medicaid expansion debate good for insurers
Some of the biggest health insurance companies in the country are poised to benefit from the debate over expanding Medicaid in Virginia, regardless of its outcome. If Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the Democratically controlled Virginia Senate prevail, the state will expand Medicaid eligibility to about 400,000 low-income residents. The money to insure them — hundreds of millions of dollars a year — will be paid by the federal government to private insurance companies. Understandably, those insurers strongly favor this option. (Washington Post)

With new health law, insurers target diabetics
As hundreds of thousands of diabetics get health coverage under the federal law, insurance companies are aggressively targeting this glut of new patients, who are expensive to treat and often lax in taking medications and following their diet. Insurers are calling diabetics when they don’t pick up prescriptions or miss appointments. They are arranging transportation to get them to the doctor’s office and some are even sending nurses on house calls in an effort to avoid costly complications that will have big impact on their bottom lines. (Washington Post)