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

Iowa News

Proposed Medicaid cuts threaten Hope Haven, disabled Iowans
Hope Haven will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a party Thursday recognizing the work done on behalf of children and adults with disabilities throughout southeast Iowa. Celebration aside, Hope Haven and organizations like it currently face the threat of a significant financial squeeze if Medicaid cuts are enacted to the extent proposed in the US Senate’s health care legislation. (Burlington Hawk Eye)

Medica spells out steep health insurance premium hikes, plus subsidies to cushion the blow
The sole health insurance carrier planning to sell individual policies in Iowa for 2018 is spelling out steep premium increases to its customers this week, but offering assurances that federal subsidies will protect most of them.  Medica plans to raise premiums an average of 43.5 percent next year for about 14,000 Iowans who buy its policies. But the company said most of them would qualify for federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, which would cover most or all of the increased premium costs. (Des Moines Register)

Allow Iowans to buy into Medicaid
Iowans should be allowed to buy into the state’s Medicaid program. The proposal, unveiled last week by Democratic state lawmakers, is a good idea for many reasons. It is a great idea when the state’s individual health insurance market is faltering. The plan eliminates former Gov. Terry Branstad’s privatization of Medicaid’s management, a move disrupting the lives of Iowans and draining public health dollars. It combines potential savings with federal subsidies currently received by moderate-income Iowans to buy coverage. (Des Moines Register)

Broadlawns’ PATH program gives patients a new lease on life
As the need for mental health services grows in Iowa, one metro hospital is using an alternative program to meet the need. The Broadlawns Medical Center Positive Alternatives to Hospitalization (PATH) program takes an individualized approach to treating mental health, leaving patients with a new lease on life. “I’d probably still be homeless, and I’d be sad, and I probably wouldn’t be able to have my son with me,” PATH participant Lavonda Rhoads said. (KCCI)

Iowa reports highest number of HIV cases ever
Tuesday was National HIV Testing Day and local health officials were using the day to get the word out that HIV cases in Iowa are up. The Iowa Department of Public Health recently released numbers that show in 2016, there were more new HIV cases than any other year on record. The numbers show 136 Iowans were diagnosed with HIV. That’s the most since records for testing for the disease began in 1989. (KCCI)

‘The Shot Lady’, a Muscatine nurse, is honored as a vaccination champion
In her 22 years as a public health nurse, Susan Krueger estimates she’s given more than 20,000 vaccinations, earning the nickname “the shot lady.” “I’ve poked lots of kids,” she said. “Sometimes the kids see ‘the shot lady’ at the grocery store and they are not happy. There’s a few that remember me. It’s a sad reputation, but it’s important.” Krueger, who works at UnityPoint Health-Trinity Muscatine Public Health, has made it her mission to educate and vaccinate low-income people in Muscatine County. (Muscatine Journal)

National News

A rural hospital CEO’s take on the Senate health care bill
The Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of Senate Republicans’ health care plan on Monday. It’s not much different from the plan House Republicans passed last month, which the CBO estimated would lower the federal deficit over the next decade while also leaving millions more people uninsured. The deepest cuts Republicans are proposing are to Medicaid, which provides health care to low-income Americans. If passed, rural hospitals would be among those hardest hit because their patients tend to be older and poorer. (Minnesota Public Radio)

What will the Senate health care bill mean for me?
Since Senate Republicans released the draft of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week, many people have been wondering how the proposed changes will affect their own coverage, and their family’s: Will my pre-existing condition be covered? Will my premiums go up or down? The bill is still a work in progress, but we’ve taken a sampling of questions from All Things Considered listeners and answered them, based on what we know now. (National Public Radio)

Senate health plan would close Texas hospitals, critics say
Britt Berrett, former president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, said hospitals here will “absolutely” close if Republicans pass the Senate plan. Rural hospitals would be “especially hard hit,” said Berrett, who now heads the University of Texas at Dallas’ undergraduate health administration program. Ted Shaw, president and CEO of the Texas Hospital Association, also said the plan hurts Texans. “The bill … to repeal the Affordable Care Act will increase the number of uninsured Texans and hospitals’ uncompensated care costs, yielding clinical and financial outcomes that are bad for Texas.” (Weatherford Democrat)

Boy’s hospital bill goes viral amid health care debate
A New Jersey mom says she posted her 3-year-old son’s heart surgery bill online to show how potential changes in the health care law could drastically increase out-of-pocket costs for those with life-threatening conditions. Ali Chandra’s son, Ethan, was born with a congenital heart defect known as heterotaxy. He’s already had multiple surgeries which have been covered by health insurance. (CBS News)

The FDA may move to shorten that grim list of side effects on every drug ad
Warning: Watching TV drug ads may put you to sleep. That’s no surprise to many of us who’ve heard about the countless ways prescription drugs can harm us. But now, the Food and Drug Administration is considering whether bombarding consumers with every last potential side effect might be overkill. The agency is proposing a new study to look at whether patients are being “over-warned” to the point that they stop paying attention. (STAT News)

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

Iowa News

Iowa’s rural hospitals are especially vulnerable to health care bill’s Medicaid cuts
The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on its plan to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The bill would cut funding for Medicaid, the program that provides health insurance for children, middle-income people in nursing homes, poor people, and people with disabilities. Medicaid cuts would make things harder for Iowa’s rural hospitals and could jeopardize access to health care for rural residents. (Iowa Public Radio)

Iowans predict ‘astronomical’ costs under GOP health care bill
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Republican health care overhaul bill would leave 22 million more people uninsured over the next 10 years than the current Affordable Care Act law. The CBO said the GOP bill would reduce the deficit by $321 million at the same time. (KCCI)

Denver family worries ‘medically fragile’ boy will suffer under plan
Hans Froyum Roise has a rare condition called congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, or CCHS, which means his nervous system doesn’t perform some functions most do automatically, like breathing. He travels everywhere with a ventilator, and wears it each night since breathing is a particular worry when he sleeps. Because Hans’ condition makes him “medically fragile,” parents Adam and Carissa Froyum Roise qualify for some Medicaid benefits as a secondary insurance. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Senate health bill could lead to shuttered Iowa nursing homes, industry leaders warn
Iowa hospital leaders traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to lobby against the bill. They were unable to gain in-person meetings with Grassley or Ernst, but they spoke to the senators’ staff members, association President Kirk Norris said Monday. Norris said rural hospitals tend to be the most dependent on Medicaid, which covers 10 percent to 20 percent of their patients. If Medicaid is cut as much as predicted, he said, small hospitals are likely to drop money-losing services, starting with mental-health and addiction-treatment programs. (Des Moines Register)

Let’s get health care plan right
The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, like the House’s American Health Care Act, would eliminate taxes underwriting Obamacare while reducing mandated benefits and cutting Medicaid. The secretive strategy to rush forward with a vote this week came after the AHCA was embraced by only 16 percent of Americans in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. President Donald Trump even reversed his embrace, calling the AHCA “mean” and wanting a Senate bill with “heart.” (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

National News

Republican health care bill imperiled with 22 million seen losing insurance
Twenty-two million Americans would lose insurance over the next decade under the U.S. Senate Republican healthcare bill, a nonpartisan congressional office said on Monday, complicating the path forward for the already-fraught legislation. After the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score, Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican, said she could not support moving forward on the bill as written. (Reuters)

CBO: 4 million would lose employer health coverage under GOP plan
Four million people would lose employer-provided insurance coverage in 2018 if the Senate’s plan to repeal ObamaCare became law, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected on Monday. The nonpartisan budget analyst attributed the drop to the GOP’s plan to repeal ObamaCare’s two central mandates: the requirement to have health insurance and the requirement that most large employers provide it. (The Hill)

From birth to death, Medicaid affects the lives of millions
Medicaid is the government health care program for the poor. That’s the shorthand explanation. But Medicaid is so much more than that — which is why it’s become the focal point of the battle in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Here are five key things to know about Medicaid as the debate moves forward. (National Public Radio)

After decline of steel and coal, Ohio fears health care jobs are next
When people talk about jobs in Ohio, they often talk about the ones that got away. “Ten years ago, we had steel. Ten years ago, we had coal. Ten years ago, we had plentiful jobs,” says Mike McGlumphy, who runs the job center in Steubenville, Ohio, the Jefferson County seat. Today, the city on the Ohio River is a shell of its former self. And health care has overtaken manufacturing as the county’s main economic driver. One in four private sector jobs in the county are now in health care. The region’s biggest employer by far is the local hospital. (National Public Radio)

Nursing shortage in Missouri hospitals reaches an all-time high
The shortage of nurses in Missouri hospitals is at an all-time high, according to a 2017 report by the Missouri Hospital Association. Almost 16 percent, or about 6,000, of staff nursing positions in Missouri hospitals are vacant. In mid-Missouri, the number doubled from 8.1 percent to 16.2 percent between January 2016 and December 2016. About 600 positions in mid-Missouri hospitals are open. (Columbia Missourian)

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

Iowa News

Senate Republican health care legislation in troubled waters
President Donald Trump said he hopes to coax the reluctant Republicans on board. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky would like to vote on the legislation before the Fourth of July recess. Iowa’s two Republican senators visited Des Moines on Friday and said they are reading the draft of the health care bill and that they need to study it this weekend. (KCCI)

Ernst isn’t ready to take stance on controversial health care bill
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said Friday that she didn’t know enough yet about her party’s new health care bill to comment on any part of it, but she expressed confidence that she and other senators would have enough time to study and debate the sweeping proposal before voting on it. “I am still going through the bill. It was just released yesterday,” the Iowa Republican told reporters at the Statehouse in Des Moines. (Des Moines Register)

What will health care reform mean for rural Iowa hospitals and those they care for?
In Decatur County, more than 17 percent the hospital’s revenue comes from Medicaid. What do these cuts mean for the future of our county’s only hospital, and for those who seek treatment here and work here? What does it mean for the future of small, rural communities like mine if doctors leave for larger markets with greater financial stability? (Des Moines Register)

Medicaid cuts and caps will affect seniors
As Congress works to replace the Affordable Care Act, a dangerous proposal has emerged that would dramatically alter Medicaid’s financial structure and shift far more of the risk for the increasing cost of long-term supports and services (LTSS) to the states, where Iowa’s budget is ill-equipped to deal with the additional burden. The American Health Care Act contains cuts and caps to Medicaid that could result in a serious decrease in financing for Iowa’s aging services, a reduction of care for Iowans who need LTSS and home care job losses in Iowa as high as 6,351. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s simulates public heart attack to see how Siouxlanders react
What would you do if someone had a heart attack? This is the question the experts at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s want Siouxlanders to have an answer for. At the farmers market they had someone stage a heart attack to see how the public would react. The point of the exercise was to see how shoppers at the market would react. (KMEG)

National News

GOP’s Obamacare repeal bills threaten huge disruptions across the health care system
President Trump and GOP leaders have touted their Obamacare repeal bills — one passed by the House last month and a Senate version unveiled last week — as a necessary fix to problems created by the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. But in physicians’ offices and medical centers, in state capitols and corporate offices, there are growing fears that the unprecedented cuts proposed in the GOP legislation would create even larger problems in the U.S. healthcare system. (Los Angeles Times)

Senate health-care bill faces serious resistance from GOP moderates
A small group of moderate Republican senators, worried that their leaders’ health-care bill could damage the nation’s social safety net, may pose at least as significant an obstacle to the measure’s passage as their colleagues on the right. The vast changes the legislation would make to Medicaid, the country’s broadest source of public health insurance, would represent the largest single step the government has ever taken toward conservatives’ long-held goal of reining in federal spending on health-care entitlement programs in favor of a free-market system. (Washington Post)

What Medicaid cuts could mean for the opioid crisis
According to an estimate from The New York Times, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. The Senate bill proposes $2 billion for treatment and recovery services through 2018 to offset cuts to Medicaid funding at the state level. Democrats and even some Republican lawmakers say that’s tens of billions of dollars too little to adequately address this crisis. (Iowa Public Radio/National Public Radio)

Consumer issues stemming from GOP health care initiative
Groups representing doctors and hospitals are overwhelmingly opposed to the Republican approach, because it’s likely to result in millions more uninsured people. Consumer organizations like AARP are also opposed. Under Obama, the nation’s uninsured rate dropped below 9 percent, a historic low. Progress has stalled, partly because “Obamacare” is politically divisive. Now, the uninsured rate may start climbing again, because both the House and Senate bills cut federal financing and repeal an unpopular requirement to carry health insurance. (Associated Press/KWWL)

Rural Tennessee doctor fears for patients over proposed Medicaid cuts
In the last four years, four rural hospitals within an hour’s drive of Dr. Gregg Mitchell’s clinic have shut down. Jackson-Madison County Hospital, the major health care facility between Memphis and Nashville, serves 17 counties and attracts Medicaid patients like 22-year-old Jodi Maness. Her blood pressure is high. Two weeks ago, she gave birth to Charlee. She worries that if she loses Medicaid, the cost of visiting a doctor will soar. (CBS News)

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

Iowa News

Health care draft bill brings uncertainty to Iowa hospitals, market
Hospital officials were recently in Washington, DC, urging the state’s two Republican Senators to vote against their party’s health care legislation that would effectively overhaul the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans unveiled their health care bill Thursday. “The heart of the bill or the substance of the bill has not changed dramatically from the House,” said Iowa Hospital Association President and CEO Kirk Norris. “(Medicaid) is not just something you can cut and then not have impacts at the community level.” (KCCI)

Grassley, Ernst signal receptiveness to health bill, but they aren’t firm ‘yes’ votes yet
Iowa’s US Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst didn’t immediately commit themselves to their party’s newly unveiled plan to scale back Obamacare, but they voiced support for the need to make major changes to the nation’s health care system. Both Senators said they would withhold judgment on the bill until they’ve studied it. Roughly 200,000 Iowans have direct stakes in the controversy, because Obamacare helped them obtain Medicaid coverage or subsidized private insurance policies. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa politicians debate health care options
Even as Republicans eye sharp cuts to Medicaid as part of their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Democrats in Iowa say the program could, instead, be a lifeline for people struggling in the state’s ailing individual health insurance market. A small group of Democrats want to let Iowans buy into Medicaid, using ACA subsidies along with state money now going to managed care companies who run the program. The proposal faces steep odds with Republicans in control at the national and state level. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

New notice explains Medicare outpatient observation coverage
The Iowa Insurance Division’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) is informing Iowans about a new Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice which informs patients before they leave the hospital if they are outpatient or inpatient. “Over the past several years Iowans on Medicare were often surprised to receive information that their overnight stay at a hospital was considered to be outpatient, not inpatient,” Kris Gross, director of SHIIP said. (Mitchell County Press News)

Mahaska Health Partnership nurse wins scholarship
Mahaska Health Partnership (MHP) Nurse Melissa Schultz has been awarded a $3,500 from the Iowa Hospital Education and Research Foundation (IHERF), which is supported by the Iowa Hospital Association. Schultz currently works on inpatient services and is also pursuing a bachelor’s of nursing degree. “We are very proud of Melissa,” MHP CEO Jay Christensen said. “IHERF provides an awesome program with funding for education and development.” (Oskaloosa Herald)

National News

Health care groups issue scathing criticism of Senate bill
Leading health care advocacy groups are urging the Senate to make substantial changes to its health care plan released Thursday. The American Hospital Association (AHA) quickly slammed the Senate bill, urging the Senate to “go back to the drawing board.” “From the onset of this debate, America’s hospitals and health systems have been guided by a set of key principles that would protect coverage for Americans,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement. (The Hill)

Most Americans unaware GOP plans would make deep funding cuts to Medicaid
Congress is moving fast toward repealing the Affordable Care Act and revamping Medicaid. But most Americans say the program is working well on the national level and within their states. While almost three-fourths of Americans have a favorable view of Medicaid, only about four in 10 (38 percent) are aware that the House-passed American Health Care Act would make major funding reductions and structural changes to the program, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll. (Kaiser Health News)

How ACA, AHCA and BCRA compare
The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), like the American Health Care Act (AHCA), radically revises Medicaid, but it is closer to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on how it approaches subsidies to buy individual insurance. Both the House and Senate bills eliminate taxes that paid the costs to cover more people through Medicaid and to subsidize individual plans. Some of the big differences between current law, the House bill and the Senate bill are Medicaid expansion, Medicaid financing, individual market, subsidies, essential benefits, individual mandate and taxes. (Modern Healthcare)

Promises made to protect preexisting conditions prove hollow
Senate Republicans praised the Affordable Care Act replacement bill they presented Thursday as preserving coverage for people with cancer, mental illness and other chronic illness. But the legislation may do no such thing, according to health law experts. Built into the bill are loopholes for states to bypass those protections and erode coverage for preexisting conditions. That could lead to situations in which insurers are required to cover chronically ill people but not the diseases they suffer from. (Kaiser Health News)

GOP’s challenge: finding votes for Senate health care bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling Obamacare. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure. Shortly after the 142-page bill was distributed, more than a half-dozen GOP lawmakers signaled concerns or initial opposition. McConnell has little margin for error: Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, “no” votes by just three of the 52 GOP senators would sink the legislation. (Associated Press/ABC News)

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

Iowa News

Medicaid changes could risk our children’s health
Medicaid changes proposed in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as passed by the US House would seriously undermine the commitment to protect our children’s health. If the current legislation passes without significant changes to the Medicaid provisions, we risk the health of an entire generation. AHCA requires $834 billion in overall cuts to Medicaid which includes medical care for more than 30 million children nationwide, including 300,000 children in Iowa. (Des Moines Register)

Mental health leader once backed Medicaid privatization, now says it’s forcing staff cuts
The leader of a large Iowa mental health agency, who once defended the state’s shift to private Medicaid management, now says the new system is forcing his company to cut all of its workers’ pay and lay off about 25 of them. Optimae LifeServices President Bill Dodds said the agency has faced serious payment problems under managed care and warned that cuts in Medicaid payments to agencies like Optimae mean some Iowans with serious mental illness, including convicted sex offenders, aren’t being monitored as closely as they used to be. (Des Moines Register)

Let Iowans buy into Medicaid as alternative to private insurance, Democrats say
Iowans who have trouble finding affordable health insurance on their own should be allowed to buy into the state’s Medicaid program, Representative John Forbes (D-Urbandale) and Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) proposed Wednesday. The idea was offered as an alternative to Iowa’s faltering market for individual health insurance. Under their plan, Iowans with moderate incomes could use Obamacare subsidies to help pay premiums for Medicaid as an alternative to private coverage. (Des Moines Register)

National News

Senate GOP brings Obamacare repeal bill out of the shadows
Senate Republican leaders unveiled their long-secret plan to repeal Obamacare today, giving GOP senators and the public the first glimpse at a bill that would rewrite the nation’s health care system. The bill is expected to repeal Obamacare’s mandates and Medicaid expansion and impose significant cuts to the long-term Medicaid program. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a vote as early as next Thursday, ahead of Congress’ July 4 recess. (Politico)

Republicans’ proposed Medicaid cuts would hit rural patients hard
For the hundreds of rural hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher. Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. And a rural hospital closure goes beyond people losing health care. Jobs, property values and even schools can suffer. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding. (NPR)

How the GOP could go nuclear on Obamacare repeal
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that senators will get unlimited opportunity for amendments in any health care floor fight next week. Liberal activists are urging Democrats to filibuster the bill by attacking it with amendments. But Democratic senators are floating the prospect that McConnell will move to cut off the vote-a-rama if he feels Democrats are putting up votes on amendments purely as a delay tactic — a maneuver that would effectively be tantamount to a legislative nuclear option. (Politico)

New Jersey seeks to regulate hospital protocols for sepsis
New Jersey could become one of a handful of states to require hospitals to follow strict protocols for addressing sepsis. Most Garden State hospitals are already well on their way to meeting the proposal. Dozens of facilities have been working together for several years, with help from the New Jersey Hospital Association, to improve sepsis outcomes by sharing data, treatment protocols and lessons learned. The collaboration has driven down the sepsis mortality rate by 13 percent among participating hospitals. (New Jersey Spotlight)

Police presence could increase on Indiana hospital campuses
Hospitals in Indiana could be beefing up security if they take advantage of a new state law which allows any hospital that treats inpatients to establish a police department on campus. Julie Halbig, vice president of legislative relations at the Indiana Hospital Association, said the bill makes it possible for hospitals to have their own police departments which is especially important in an emergency room setting where sometimes people are in the middle of dangerous situations. (Greensburg Daily News)

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