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

Iowa News

Education, mental health slashed with veto pen
As expected, the governor vetoed funds to keep the state mental health institutes in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda open. That seals the deal for the facilities which were effectively shut down this week. The head of the state’s largest public employees union says he is considering going to court over the closings. A hard-won agreement would have kept Mount Pleasant open as a state institution for at least another year. Mount Pleasant Senator Rich Taylor says, for the governor it’s “my way or the highway.” (Iowa Public Radio)

Broadlawns fundraiser to expand mental-health services
Broadlawns Medical Center supporters are launching the biggest fundraiser in its history to help expand the public hospital’s mental-health services. The campaign seeks to raise $5 million in private donations. Supporters already persuaded state legislators to kick in $5 million over two years to the project, plus about $500,000 from the hospital’s staff. The fundraising campaign is being organized by an “advocate circle,” whose leaders include longtime business figures Johnny Danos and Connie Wimer. (Des Moines Register)

Mercy Hospital in Oelwein to undergo renovations
Mercy Hospital of Franciscan Sisters is beginning plans to expand its emergency department, patient registration area and laboratory. Construction is scheduled to begin in late summer and expected to be completed after 18 months. One of the highlights includes an expanded emergency medical services facility that will house Mercy Ambulance and allow climate controlled patient delivery to the emergency department. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Fort Dodge community health needs assessment is underway
Every three years UnityPoint Health – Trinity Regional Medical Center conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment. The assessment is divided into three components: a committee of local health leaders, health care provider and community member interviews, and lastly a countywide survey. The assessment enables Trinity Regional Medical Center to discover, acknowledge and work to improve local health concerns. (Fort Dodge Messenger)

Hospitalist team devoted to care at Britt hospital
If you are hospitalized at Hancock County Health System your care may be directed by one of their hospitalists. The hospitalist program is now being implemented in Britt. Hospitalists are specialty trained internal medicine physicians responsible for a patient’s care and treatment during a hospital stay. Hospitalists coordinate communication between all providers involved in your care, including your primary provider and other specialists. (KIOW)

Study finds cardiac arrest a leading cause of death
A new study by the Institute of Medicine suggests that cardiac arrest could be the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 600,000 people go into cardiac arrest each year outside of hospitals, and fewer than 6 percent of those survive. Dr. Dianne Atkins, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who worked on the report, says it’s important to distinguish cardiac arrest from a heart attack. (Iowa Public Radio)

National News

How the ACA is changing chronic care at hospitals
Healthcare professionals say the landmark health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, is accelerating changes in how hospitals treat patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart failure and obesity. Successfully treating those patients, who use many more healthcare services, have higher rates of hospitalization and more frequent emergency department visits, is challenging because many of their conditions are aggravated by unhealthy eating habits and inactivity. Chronic disease rates increase steadily as patients age, making this issue particularly key to the Medicare program. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Providers criticize CMS move to cut outpatient reimbursement
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to cut reimbursement rates for outpatient services. Provider groups immediately slammed the proposals, saying they undervalue outpatient care. For 2016, the agency proposes a .2 percent cut to outpatient prospective payment system rates. While those changes might seem small, approximately 3,800 hospitals and 60 community mental health centers are paid under the OPPS and the decrease means they’ll collectively receive an estimated $43 million less than they got in 2015. (Modern Healthcare)

Researchers screen vets’ health online
An investigator with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and a research coordinator from the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System are working to make it easier for veterans and service members nationwide to seek mental health care. Brenda Booth, with the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute, and a group of researchers in Iowa recently completed a study that screened service members online for post-deployment mental health problems and then offered them resources to learn about their conditions and receive care. (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

KU Hospital using $12.5 million grant to give rural heart care a makeover
Prevention is one part of a multipronged effort by Kansas University Hospital to develop a new approach to heart attack and stroke care in rural areas. The hospital is one year in to a three-year, $12.5 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center. The grant enabled the hospital to create the Kansas Heart and Stroke Collaborative, in which KU teams up with 14 small hospitals and medical centers Western Kansas. In short, the effort puts into place more prevention, consistent emergency protocols, telemedicine, follow-up care and teamwork. (Lawrence Journal-World)

How hospitals can financially assist patients and increase revenue
Although health insurance has become more affordable in recent years, a large majority of hospital patients still have trouble paying their medical bills. As a result, a number of hospitals across the country are finding new ways to financially assist low-income patients. Here are just a few ways hospitals are treating patients who can’t afford their medical bills. (Healthcare Global)

Drones to deliver medicine to rural Virginia field hospital
The sprawling field hospital that springs up in rural southwest Virginia every summer has been called the largest health-care outreach operation of its kind. This year, the event may have another first. Unmanned aerial vehicles — drones — are supposed to deliver medicine to the Wise County Fairgrounds in part to study how the emerging technology would be used in humanitarian crises around the world. (Washington Post)

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

Iowa News

Doors locked, ending an era for SE Iowa mental health institute
It’s now the end of an era for a Southeast Iowa mental health facility. Tuesday night at 11:15 the last employee at the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute clocked out, marking the end of a 154-year journey. “I’m very disappointed,” said State Senator Rich Taylor. As the last 10 employees at the Mount Pleasant MHI left their place of employment, State Senator Rich Taylor thanked them for their years of work. (KTVO)

A new model of care coordination in Iowa
For many rural-based patients, care coordination is a challenge borne out of social determinants more than anything else. It’s lack of transportation, limited food and pharmacy options, reduced funds for medication, and low health literacy. UnityPoint Health, headquartered in Des Moines with hospitals across three states in the Midwest, cares for countless patients that face such challenges. Within its Medicare Pioneer accountable care organization (ACO), the UnityPoint Health ACO, which covers patients across eight counties within the state, the scope of these issues go even deeper. (Healthcare Informatics)

Mercy acquisition of Newton hospital is complete
Following months of study and discussion on the benefits of combining health care operations, Mercy Medical Center has completed the acquisition of Skiff Medical Center in Newton. Wednesday Skiff became a fully owned Mercy hospital and a member of Mercy Health Network. Skiff, which has served the health care needs of Newton and central Iowa for almost a century, will initially continue to operate under the Skiff name. (Newton Daily News)

Iowa tops $8 billion in gross tax collections for first time
State net tax receipts finished the 2015 fiscal year up $376.7 million from the previous year and above the projected annual growth rate set by the state Revenue Estimating Conference according to figures released Wednesday. State tax collections rose by $26.4 million last month over June 2014 receipts, bringing overall growth for the 2015 fiscal year that ended on Tuesday to just over $6.67 billion — a 6 percent yearly growth rate that topped the 5.5 percent REC expectation. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Trainer talks about baseball player’s collapse; family provides update
Amy Shaver said her son was diagnosed with ventricular fibrillation, a condition in which his heart essentially shakes uncontrollably. “As scary as this all is, we were in the right place at the right time, with the right people to save Matt’s life. It is critical for people to know CPR and be able to perform it when the situation arises. Further, knowing where an AED machine is located and how to use it can mean the difference in terms of life and death.” (KCCI)

New therapy at St. Luke’s to help patients with Parkinson’s
Mike Van Horn has run 14 marathons and several Ironman Triathlons in his lifetime. And despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease two years ago, the 65-year-old said he isn’t letting it slow him down. LSVT Big, a new therapy program at UnityPoint-Health St. Luke’s Hospital, is helping him get there. The idea behind the therapy, which the hospital began offering to patients in April, is right in its name. It includes exaggerated movements and speaking in loud voices. (KCRG)

New state worker mandate: Report your ailments
Starting Wednesday, the Colorado- and New York-based Reed Group will be paid $386,000 a year by the state to track the medical absences of more than 21,000 state employees. As a result of the contract, state employees were notified on June 9 that, starting Wednesday, they must report medical treatments and prescription medications provided during a work absence. (Des Moines Register)

National News

New Obamacare enrollees are healthier, report finds
New ObamaCare enrollees are healthier and spent less on drugs than enrollees last year, according to a new analysis. The report from Express Scripts, the country’s largest pharmacy benefits manager, is a positive sign for the law, given the need to maintain a mix of healthy and sick enrollees to keep costs down. Still, ObamaCare exchange enrollees tended to be sicker than those in other health plans. (The Hill)

Poll: 62% approve of Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare
A majority of Americans approve of the Supreme Court decision to continue allowing Affordable Care Act health insurance subsidies in all states, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. The poll found that 62 percent of Americans support the King v. Burwell decision, while 32 percent disapprove. The public’s approval of the King v. Burwell decision is higher than that of the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling, which also rejected a major challenge to the Obama-backed health care law. (NBC News)

CMS will modify—not scrap—’two-midnight’ rule
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) plans to soften but keep the controversial “two-midnight” rule governing short hospital stays in spite of aggressive calls from providers and policy experts to abandon the policy. In a proposed payment rule posted Wednesday, the Obama administration said it plans to allow physicians to exercise judgment to admit patients for short hospital stays on a case-by-case basis. CMS also said it would remove oversight of those decisions from its administrative contractors and instead ask quality improvement organizations to enforce the policy. (Modern Healthcare)

Doctors see big cybersecurity risks, compliance as key for hospitals
Cybersecurity and healthcare IT are both burgeoning areas of business. Put them together and you have a volatile mix of emerging technologies, security and privacy risks, and regulatory requirements—but also a lot of opportunity for growth and improvements. It’s no surprise that doctors and hospital administrators are concerned with security. The healthcare industry is a top target of cyber attacks (see the Anthem data breach), and it has highly sensitive information about large swaths of the population. (Xconomy)

HHS funds national Ebola training center
The Department of Health and Human Services has launched a National Ebola Training and Education Center, which will offer additional training opportunities for health care facilities and state health departments. Emory University in Atlanta, the University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine in Omaha and Bellevue Hospital Center in New York will receive $12 million over five years to co-lead the center, which will expand on training offered by Emory and Nebraska Medical Center since December. (Department of Health and Human Services)

California’s tough new law overcomes decades-old distrust of vaccines
On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed into law a requirement that nearly all children be vaccinated in order to attend school. With the stroke of a pen, California went from being a state with relatively lax vaccination rules to one of the most strict in the country — joining Mississippi and West Virginia as states where even exemptions for religious beliefs are not allowed. (Kaiser Health News)

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

Iowa News

Obamacare opponents need to move on
Though the law is not perfect, opponents’ never-ending challenges create uncertainty for individual Americans, states, businesses, hospitals, doctors and the U.S. economy. Their more than 50 attempts in Congress to repeal or defund Obamacare have been unsuccessful. The Supreme Court has twice sided with the Obama administration in lawsuits. There is public support for major provisions in the law. The most compelling reason for opponents to stop challenging the law: It is working for average people. (Des Moines Register)

Free summer meals available to Iowa kids in need
By the end of this summer, the Iowa Department of Education expects to distribute a million meals and snacks to kids in Iowa who might otherwise go without a nutritious lunch now that school is out. And it’s still not enough, officials say. When the final bell dismissing classes for the summer rings, many school-age children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school face a problem: finding a consistent, nutritional meal for lunch. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Hospitals react to SCOTUS decision
When the Supreme Court struck down the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, jubilant board members meeting at Trinity Health burst into cheers and applause. “We’re ecstatic,” says Ben Carter, chief financial officer of the Livonia, Illinois-based not-for-profit Catholic hospital system with 84 hospitals in 21 states. “A total victory for working people. That’s what we’re celebrating.” (U.S. News & World Report)

New Jersey hospital loses property tax court case
Morristown Medical Center should pay property taxes on virtually all of its 40-acre property in town, a tax court judge ruled Friday in a decision closely watched by other hospitals across New Jersey. Tax Court Judge Vito Bianco ruled that the hospital failed to meet the legal test that it operated as a non-profit, charitable organization for the tax years 2006 through 2008. Only the auditorium, fitness center and the visitors’ garage should not be assessed for property taxes, he said. (

Obama plans to expand overtime eligibility for millions
The Obama administration plans to raise the wages of millions of Americans who work more than 40 hours a week by requiring their employers to pay them overtime. Workers who earn as much as $970 a week would have to be paid overtime even if they’re classified as a manager or professional, based on draft rules to be announced as soon as Tuesday, said an administration official. (Bloomberg)

Patient safety in children’s hospitals: The journey to zero harm
In contemporary society, we like to talk about thinking outside the box. Sometimes, though, you have to build an entirely new box. Such is the case for children’s hospitals working to improve patient safety in their facilities. Since the Institutes of Medicine first published “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” their report on patient safety in 1999, health care has struggled with how best to protect those cared for in our system. Now, 16 years later, the search for how to do just that might be close to finding that elusive treasure. (U.S. News & World Report)

IOM issues recommendations to promote timely health care appointments
Wait times for health care appointments vary widely in the United States, ranging from same day service to several months, according to a report released today by the Institute of Medicine. Causes for delays include mismatched supply and demand, the current provider-focused approach to scheduling, outmoded workforce and care supply models, priority-based queues, care complexity, reimbursement complexity, and financial and geographic barriers, the study committee said. (Institute of Medicine)

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

Iowa News

Iowa politicians react to Supreme Court decision on Obamacare
More than 45,000 Iowans will continue to receive federal financial assistance to pay for their health insurance, thanks to a ruling delivered Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled, 6-3 that federal financial assistance provided to residents of states such as Iowa that did not create their own insurance markets are legal. Reaction in Iowa to the highly anticipated Supreme Court decision was divided, predictably along party lines. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Burgess Health Center opens two new public gyms
If you live in Onawa or Mapleton, Iowa, and are interested in the gym, you’ll have a new option when it comes to becoming a member. Burgess Health Center opened two Medically Oriented Gyms, known as M.O.G.’s, at each of those locations. The concept of the gym is to make access to working out less complicated and educational. “We’re kind of a mixture of a regular gym and a physical therapy gym,” said Jon Young, the Exercise Program Coordinator. (KTIV)

Hospital’s summer program teaches kids driving rules
A program that’s been around for about two decades will finish another session this Friday. Mercy Medical Center’s Safety Village teaches the rules of the road to children ages five to seven. About 200 will finish the curriculum this week at Grant Wood Elementary. The kids practice driving in a miniature town, equipped with a post office, law enforcement, a library and more. Director Stacy Rustvold says she sees a noticeable improvement by the end of the program’s two weeks. (KCRG)

Hospital’s ‘Be The Match’ drive looks to sign up potential bone marrow donors
Mercy Medical Center hosted a ‘Be The Match’ bone marrow donor drive this morning in Cedar Rapids. Be The Match is an international non-profit organization that matches peripheral blood stem cell and bone marrow donors to patients battling blood cancers. Anyone between the ages of 18 to 44 were able to register at the event. Those between 45 and 60 are asked to register online because of the high demand of donors younger than 45. (KCRG)

National News

Supreme Court rules Obamacare subsidies are legal
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday handed the Obama administration a major victory on health care, ruling 6-3 that nationwide subsidies called for in the Affordable Care Act are legal. “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” the court’s majority said in the opinion, which was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. But they acknowledged that “petitioners’ arguments about the plain meaning … are strong.” (National Public Radio)

Does Medicaid make a difference?
As millions of Americans gain Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, attention has focused on the access to care, quality of care, and financial protection that coverage provides. This analysis uses the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2014, to explore these questions by comparing the experiences of working-age adults with private insurance who were insured all year, Medicaid beneficiaries with a full year of coverage, and those who were uninsured for some time during the year. (Commonwealth Fund)

How Obamacare has impacted the uninsured rate
An annual survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded the sharpest drop in uninsured adults in 2014 since the survey began in 1997. The uninsured rate among adults under 65 dropped from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 16.3 percent in 2014. The uninsured rate among adults 19-25, especially, saw progress from 31.3 percent uninsured to 26.9 percent in 2014. (Fortune)

Tackling the very high costs of big health care users
Imitation is the highest form of flattery—and it may end up helping greatly reduce the highest source of health-care costs in the U.S. A new project is aiming to identify the kinds of treatments and models of care that lead to the best results for so-called high-need patients, and then try to replicate those results on a broad scale. Such high-need patients, often senior citizens and frequently suffering from multiple chronic health conditions, with multiple medical providers treating them, represent a very large fraction of total health-care spending in the U.S. (CNBC)

Medicare slow to adopt telehealth due to cost concerns
Nearly 20 years after such videoconferencing technology has been available for health services, fewer than 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries use it. Anthem and a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center health plan in western Pennsylvania are the only two Medicare Advantage insurers offering the virtual visits, and the traditional Medicare program has tightly limited telemedicine payments to certain rural areas. And even there, the beneficiary must already be at a clinic, a rule that often defeats the goal of making care more convenient. Congress has maintained such restrictions out of concern that the service might increase Medicare expenses. (Kaiser Health News)

3 out of 4 medical residents clueless on cost
Only about 25 percent of internal medicine residents say they know where to find costs estimates for tests and treatments and that they can share those estimates with patients, according to a survey by the American College of Physicians. The cross-sectional survey questioned more than 18,000 U.S. internal medicine residents who took the Internal Medicine In-Training Examination in October 2012. The study was published in the June issue of Academic Medicine: The Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. (HealthLeaders Media)

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

Iowa News

Obamacare ruling could affect millions, except for plaintiff
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling within days in a case called King v. Burwell. At stake are federal subsidies created by the Affordable Care Act to help millions of Americans pay for private health insurance. These Americans could lose that financial assistance and coverage if the court rules against the Obama administration and in favor of David M. King. So who is this plaintiff? How will King be personally affected by the ruling? Apparently he won’t. He is a veteran and has access to medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. (Des Moines Register)

Branstad signs broadband expansion bill into law
“Our state already has a low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent but, to continue our growth, we must look at ways to encourage connecting every acre of Iowa to high-speed broadband,” Governor Branstad said before signing House File 655 into law. “I’m pleased with the strong bipartisan support this measure received in the Iowa Legislature,” the governor told reporters and others who gathered at an implement warehouse to witness the bill signing. “Together, Iowa lawmakers came together to pass this meaningful legislation to continue building Iowa for the future.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Patients test drive pacemakers before permanent implant
A medical conference in Italy is sparking conversation about pacemakers. It included a presentation by Professor Michael Giudici, director of arrhythmia services in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Patients are test driving pacemakers outside the skin before deciding whether or not to have a permanent implant. Researchers at the University of Iowa looked at six patients who spent two to three weeks with a temporary pacemaker. At the end of the trial period, all six went with the permanent one. (KARE)

National News

Doctors propose tool to help gauge the value of cancer drugs
The pushback against soaring cancer drug prices is gaining steam. A leading doctors group on Monday proposed a formula to help patients decide if a medicine is worth it — what it will cost them and how much good it is likely to do. The move by the American Society of Clinical Oncology is the third recent effort to focus on value in cancer care. Two weeks ago, the European Society for Medical Oncology proposed a similar guide. Last week, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York posted an online tool suggesting a drug’s fair price, based on benefits and side effects. (Associated Press/ABC News)

Groups recommend additional U.S. action to prepare for emerging infections
Trust for America’s Health, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and UPMC Center for Health Security today called on the United States to take additional steps to prepare for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus and other emerging infections. The report calls for action to strengthen communication strategies; incorporate health alerts into practice; routinely take complete travel histories; build on Ebola and all-hazards preparedness; modernize disease surveillance; and advance a shared framework for quarantine decisions. (Trust for America’s Health)

Tennessee hospitals want Obamacare, senators don’t
Conventional wisdom says big corporations that employ lots of people in a state generally call the shots with local politicians, especially when those corporations are the source of major campaign contributions. But that’s not the case in Tennessee. At least when it comes to Obamacare. Tennessee is looming as ground zero for the political fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision, which could come as early as Thursday, on the insurance subsidies at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care law. (Bloomberg)

North Dakota seeing big changes in its hospital landscape
North Dakota previously has lacked the population base to generate much interest in hospital acquisitions by outside groups, North Dakota Hospital Association President Jerry Jurena said. The state’s population, buoyed by an oil boom, has grown by nearly 10 percent to a record 740,000 residents since the 2010 Census. That’s up about 94,000 residents since 2004. That has driven an increase in the volume of medical services in the state. (Associated Press/Washington Times)

Connecticut hospitals say they are hurt by higher taxes, looming Medicaid cuts
Hospitals in the state are lobbying as hard as any group to eke out higher contributions from the state, but pressure from other sectors, particularly corporations looking for tax changes, could temper any gains as a special session draws near. In each of the next two years, the state’s hospitals as a group will pay an estimated $105 million more between increases in taxes and adjustments in Medicaid rates, as well as other cuts, according to figures from the Connecticut Hospital Association. (New Haven Register)