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

Iowa News

Reynolds wants to talk tax reform, health care with Trump during Cedar Rapids visit
Governor Kim Reynolds said she plans to discuss Iowa’s ailing health insurance exchange with President Donald Trump when he visits Cedar Rapids today. “Of course I’m going to continue to talk about encouraging the White House to work with us on our stopgap measure for insurance coverage so that we have an option for 72,000 Iowans to ensure that they have some type of coverage beginning on July 1 of 2018,” she told reporters at her weekly press conference. (Des Moines Register)

We’d be burying our newborn girl if not for the ‘Count the Kicks’ app, Iowa mom says
The “Count the Kicks” app on Emily Eekhoff’s phone is no game — it’s a lifesaver. The app helps women keep track of how active their babies are in the last three months of pregnancy. A sudden lack of activity can indicate dangerous complications, which happened in Eekhoff’s case. The “Count the Kicks” program was created by five Iowa women who suffered stillbirths and encourages women in the third trimester of pregnancy to measure how long it takes them to feel 10 kicks. (Des Moines Register)

$100K gift boosts hospital OB unit project
Dr. Gerald H. Goettsch was a prolific obstetrician (OB) in the Quad Cities and delivered babies at the former Osteopathic Hospital, as well as the old Mercy and St. Luke’s hospitals that since merged to become Genesis Health System. Her husband’s work inspired Roletta Goettsch to provide a $100,000 gift to Marengo Memorial Hospital, where their son, Barry, is CEO. And it was only appropriate that the money will be used for the labor and delivery unit at the hospital, to be completed in 2018. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

National News

After weeks of secrecy, US Senate to unveil health care bill
US Senate Republicans plan to unveil the text of their draft health care bill on Thursday as senators struggle over issues such as the future of the Medicaid program for the poor and bringing down insurance costs. Republicans in the chamber have been working for weeks behind closed doors on legislation aimed at repealing and replacing major portions of the Affordable Care Act. The effort has been plagued from the start by tensions between moderates and conservatives. (Reuters)

Hospital group urges changes to GOP health care bill
The American Hospital Association (AHA) on Monday urged Republican senators to make sure hospitals are reimbursed if the number of uninsured patients grows following the passage of a health care bill that would repeal and replace portions of Obamacare. “If coverage is not maintained at the current level, those resources need to be returned to hospitals and health systems in order to provide services to the additional millions of Americans who will become uninsured,” AHA wrote in a letter. (Washington Examiner)

Democrats warn: Obamacare repeal will hurt rural hospitals
Constraining the growth of Medicaid spending and reducing federal support for expanded coverage will disproportionately hurt rural communities, according to a report released Wednesday by the Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee and US Senate Special Committee on Aging. Rural residents are less likely to have commercial insurance and more likely to be low-income than people who live in metropolitan areas, and rural hospitals are particularly vulnerable to cutbacks in the government insurance for the poor and disabled. (Modern Healthcare)

GOP Medicaid cuts would hit states fighting opioid epidemic
The Republican drive to roll back Obamacare is on a collision course with a national opioid epidemic. Medicaid cuts resulting from the GOP legislation would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties. The bill would phase out expanded Medicaid, which allows states to provide federally backed insurance to low-income adults previously not eligible – many people who are dealing with opioid addiction (Associated Press/KWWL)

Building blocks: Block grants, per capita caps and Medicaid reform
Republican Medicaid reform proposals have thus far focused on converting federal funding from the current approach of proportional federal and state financing to either block grants or per capita caps. While these funding approaches may sound relatively straightforward, understanding the implications of such changes requires consideration of several factors. A Milliman report breaks down the detailed considerations into two primary categories: initial benchmark development and annual growth rates. (Milliman)

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

Iowa News

Iowa Medicaid insurers see financial losses for fourth consecutive quarter
The three private insurers managing Iowa’s Medicaid program again saw millions of dollars in financial losses during the first quarter of 2017, according to a new report out Monday. This is the fourth consecutive quarter in which the insurers reported a negative profit margin. During their first year of operation in Iowa, all three insurers reported losses in excess of $100 million, with AmeriHealth suffering the greatest loss at nearly $300 million. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Medica intends to stay in Iowa’s health-insurance market, at higher price
The last carrier standing in Iowa’s individual health-insurance market said Monday that it intends to keep selling such policies here next year, but it would need to charge much higher premiums than it’s collecting now. Even after Monday’s announcement, Medica still could pull out of the Iowa market, as many experts feared. The relatively small, Minnesota-based carrier told Iowa regulators Monday that in order to stay in the market, they would need to increase premiums by an average of 43.5 percent. (Des Moines Register)

Rural Iowa hospitals will face brunt of reduced Medicaid reimbursements
The Iowa Council on Human Services recently approved up to $31 million in cuts to Medicaid providers and comes at the same time that Republicans in Congress are attempting to reduce federal outlays for Medicaid. This will reduce the number of Iowans covered by Medicaid and lower reimbursement for Medicaid providers. The brunt of this will fall disproportionately on rural hospitals, which have a higher proportion of Medicaid patients and some rural hospitals in Iowa may be forced to close. (Des Moines Register)

Patients receive super surprise at Blank Children’s Hospital
Patients at Blank Children’s Hospital got a surprise visit Friday from several superheroes. Four window washers dressed as superheroes flew down the side of the hospital to say “Hi” to the kids in the playroom. The window washers came from Larry’s Window Cleaning Service. The kids got to meet Batman, Superman, Spiderman and Captain America. This is the third year in a row Larry’s Window Cleaning service has partnered with Blank Children’s Hospital for the special event. (KCCI)

National News

Hospital group warns of serious harm from Medicaid cuts
The American Hospital Association (AHA) warned Senate Republicans Monday against including large cuts to Medicaid. “Medicaid serves our most vulnerable populations, including Americans with chronic conditions such as cancer, the elderly and disabled individuals in need of long-term services and support,” AHA wrote in a letter Monday. AHA suggested leaders allow states to use waivers to “improve care and program sustainability” rather than transitioning to a per capita cap or block grant form of funding. (The Hill)

Senate GOP considers deeper Medicaid cuts than House bill
A leading option in the Senate’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace debate is to make even deeper cuts to Medicaid spending than the bill passed by the House. The proposal would start out the growth rate for a new cap on Medicaid spending at the same levels as the House bill, but then drop to a lower growth rate that would cut spending more starting in 2025. A separate Medicaid issue — how quickly to phase out the funding for the expansion of the program — remains up in the air. (The Hill)

ER visits up, uninsured visits down in Medicaid expansion states
A new Annals of Emergency Medicine report found that Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act led to 2.5 more emergency room (ER) visits per 1,000 people after 2014. Uninsured visits to the ER decreased by 5.3 percent. Emergency medicine does cost more, but with more emergency patients insured, hospitals aren’t on the hook for as much uncompensated care. Advocates for Medicaid expansion could trumpet this latest report as reason for not rolling back Medicaid expansion. (Healthcare Dive)

Senate GOP prepares for Obamacare repeal vote next week
Senate Republicans are preparing to vote on Obamacare repeal next week, provided this week’s work goes smoothly, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations. Senators are expected to see bill text as soon as the end of this week, those sources said. The timeline could change based on the response from individual senators toward the proposal at party meetings, but Republicans are increasingly optimistic they can hold a vote next week if this week’s lunch talks go well. (Politico)

How does health spending in the US compare to other countries?
A new analysis looks at 2015 health data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Health Statistics database. It looks at how spending on health care in the US compares to other OECD countries that are similarly large and wealthy. Wealthy countries like the US tend to spend more per person on health care and related expenses than lower income countries. However, the US spends more per person on health than comparable countries. (Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker)

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

Iowa News

New budget cuts surprise groups providing services to Iowans with disabilities, diseases
Health care providers and not-for-profits across the state are scrambling to carry out even tighter budgets come July 1 after the Iowa Department of Public Health (DPH) notified them last week that it is making an additional $1.3 million in cuts. They come after DPH’s general fund budget was slashed by more than 13 percent during the 2017 legislative session and come as a shock to the organizations, who provide what they believe are necessary services for disabled and sick Iowans. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

New UnityPoint Health Fair focused on parenting
Children gave their teddy bears check-ups, moms learned about healthy breastfeeding and dads checked car seats for safety Saturday at the UnityPoint Clinic in Muscatine. The hospital held its first ever Growing Up With UnityPoint Health Fair over the weekend, to inform new and expectant parents about the resources available to them in Muscatine. Obstetrician Care Coordinator Abbie Derksen said having children watch their teddy bears or baby dolls receive a check-up can ease fears about going to the doctor. (Muscatine Journal)

Therapy dogs help patients heal at Mercy Medical Center
Several studies have shown that pets can unleash a certain type of healing power. That’s why Mercy Medical Center is using therapy dogs to help bring comfort and happiness to a number of patients. These dogs have to get certified to be therapy dogs and they even wear a special badge to show that they are volunteers. When the hospital’s doors open patients usually expect to see doctors or nurses walk inside. But on Wednesdays, patients are greeted by a very special four-legged volunteer. (KCRG)

National News

Rural hospital crisis in Tennessee in need of a cure
Of the nine hospital closures in Tennessee since 2013, seven are in rural areas. Nearly 60 other hospitals across the state are financially strapped and are at risk of closing. “These hospitals are lifelines in their communities. They serve as hubs for affordable quality health care, and more often than not are the largest employers in the area,” said Craig Becker, president and CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association. (Knoxville News Sentinel)

Minnesota Hospitals fear health plan changes will add up to big losses
Minnesota hospital executives expect big hits to bottom lines if Congress approves President Donald Trump’s proposed budget or the US Senate passes a health care reform bill like one approved by the House. The Minnesota Hospital Association spokeswoman Wendy Burt said 38 hospitals in Minnesota already operate at a loss. “It is more than fair to say that uncompensated care will go up if the Affordable Care Act is repealed or Medicaid is cut as significantly,” said Burt. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Nevada governor vetoes Medicaid-for-all bill
There will be no Medicaid-for-all option in Nevada. Governor Brian Sandoval waited until the last day he could — Friday — to veto a measure that would have offered a state-sponsored health insurance option to all residents regardless of income. If he hadn’t signed it or vetoed it by midnight, it would have become law. Had the Republican governor signed it, however, Nevada would have become the first state to attempt a Medicaid-for-all approach to health insurance. (Los Angeles Times)

Health care reform bill is ‘problematic,’ both GOP and Democratic governors say
A bipartisan group of governors are criticizing the Republican health care bill currently being crafted in Congress, arguing the legislation fails to protect the vulnerable and shifts the financial burden of coverage to the states. In a pointed letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the governors called on senators to engage with them in the health care reform debate— arguing the current draft of the GOP’s health care bill was insufficient to ensure adequate coverage and affordability. (CNBC)

Obamacare repeal and the Senate: Where it stands
It’s a key two weeks for Senate Republicans, who are edging closer to a vote as soon as the end of this month on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Lawmakers have yet to see text of a bill and are deeply divided over key questions, such as how quickly to phase out Medicaid expansion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has suggested he wants to hold a vote before the July 4 recess to prevent healthcare from eating up more of the Senate’s time. (The Hill)

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

Iowa News

Medicaid ‘shell game’ means Iowa hospitals, doctors will be paid millions less by state
Scrambling to meet a shrinking budget, Iowa is cutting tens of millions of dollars in Medicaid payments to hospitals, doctors and other health care providers. Many health care providers say Medicaid already pays less than it costs to treat patients. But state administrators say they must trim some of the pay rates to meet their 2018 budget. The Medicaid payment reductions were approved this week by a sharply divided Iowa Council on Human Services. (Des Moines Register)

Foxhoven begins dream opportunity as DHS head
Thursday was the first day of what Jerry Foxhoven considers “a dream opportunity” as director of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). “I’m excited. It’s a great opportunity to try to do good,” said Foxhoven, 64, a well-known leader in child protection and family law who is Governor Kim Reynolds’ choice to lead one of the state’s largest agency. Foxhoven is succeeding Chuck Palmer, who is retiring today. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

How Montgomery County Memorial Hospital made population health possible
Earlier this year, the information technology (IT) staff of Montgomery County Memorial Hospital (MCMH) spent hours a day on simple tasks. But in April, the hospital found a way to streamline its back-end processes, improve data management and drive investment in progressive services. MCMH successfully deployed a new data platform from backup, recovery, archive and cloud provider allowing the hospital to implement broader population health services, among other new projects. (HealthTech)

University of Iowa researcher’s discovery could lead to cure for all cancers
Researchers at the University of Iowa are making strides that may lead to a “magic bullet” to address all cancerous tumors. “We discovered a mechanism where tumors formed by cells and aggregates being pulled together by specialized cells,” said David Soll, a professor of biology at the University of Iowa. Soll said his team now has four potential drugs or drug-like antibodies up to the test. Soll said he’s optimistic about preventing rapid metastasizing through continued research. (CBS2Iowa)

Renovated bookstore now hub for Drake’s occupational therapy program
A small building on the Drake University campus that formerly housed the campus bookstore now serves as a training hub for dozens of students studying to become occupational therapists. The new facility also provides a resource for community health organizations in Greater Des Moines to bring actual patients and their caregivers to train them in using adaptive equipment. Drake began offering the Occupational Therapy Doctoral program last summer. (Des Moines Business Record)

National News

GOP health plan could wipe out nearly a million jobs
The American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives could be a serious job killer. If the bill were to pass the Senate in its current form, the economy would lose 924,000 jobs over the next decade, according to a new report from George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and the Commonwealth Fund. Overall state-level domestic products would fall by $93 billion and business output would drop by $148 billion by 2026. (Fiscal Times)

Secrecy surrounding Senate health bill raises alarms in both parties
As they draft legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Senate Republican leaders are aiming to transform large sections of the American health care system without a single hearing on their bill and without a formal, open drafting session. That has created an air of distrust and concern — on and off Capitol Hill, with Democrats but also with Republicans. The secrecy surrounding the Senate measure to repeal and replace ACA is remarkable — at least for a health care measure this consequential. (New York Times)

Senate likely to miss its Obamacare repeal deadline
Senate Republicans are getting dangerously close to missing their deadline to hold a Senate health care vote by month’s end, potentially derailing fulfillment of their seven-year-old campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. When they return on Monday, Republicans will have just two weeks before the Fourth of July recess to overcome the remaining big divides on policy. And they have to do all that and still keep at least 50 of the 52 Republican votes they need to pass it. (Politico)

States launch bipartisan probe of opioid marketing and addiction
A bipartisan group of state attorneys general is investigating the marketing of prescription painkillers and the causes of widespread opioid addiction, in another sign of growing pressure on the pharmaceutical industry. The probe, which includes a majority of US states, is expected to be publicly announced in the coming days. The public-health crisis has become a major political issue in most states, with voters calling for greater government action to combat the problem. (Wall Street Journal)

Can drones slash emergency response times?
Someday soon, drones toting life-saving medical equipment and supplies may zip across the skies over the US on missions of mercy. A new study published in Journal of the American Medical Association shows that a drone hauling an automated external defibrillator drastically reduced emergency response times by an average of 16 minutes for simulated out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases. Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the US has a low survival rate of between eight to 10 percent, so reducing time to defibrillation is a critical factor for increasing survival. (HealthLeaders Media)

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

Iowa News

GOP health care plan could cost Iowa 9,200 jobs
In addition to leaving more than 23 million Americans without health insurance by 2026, the Republican-backed American Health Care Act also could have serious economic consequences, eliminating nearly one million jobs by 2026, including 9,200 in Iowa. That’s according to a new report out Wednesday by George Washington University and the Commonwealth Fund. What’s more, states that expanded Medicaid, such as Iowa, are likely to experience more severe job losses and deeper economic declines. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

New Iowa clinic hopes to help foster children thrive
A new clinic at Blank Children’s Hospital hopes to help Iowa’s foster children thrive. The newly named STAR Center will venture into the foster care system, providing additional medical and mental health services to foster children. McCann said the clinic, which is the first of its kind in Iowa, will benefit a group that requires special attention. “Children don’t get into foster care without a history of trauma, and these traumatic experiences can really affect a child,” STAR Center medical director Dr. Ken McCann said. (KCCI)

Governor Reynolds: Worsening Iowa budget will force reliance on cash reserves
A steady decline in projected state revenues will force Iowa to borrow $50 million from the economic emergency fund, but across-the-board budget cuts will be avoided, Governor Kim Reynolds said Tuesday. The fiscal year begins July 1, and the Iowa Legislative Services Agency has warned that state revenues for the past 11 months have fallen about $97 million short of projections. The Republican-led Iowa Legislature has already approved $118 million in budget cuts this year. (Des Moines Register)

National News

The GOP health bill will hurt Americans. Bad backroom deals won’t cure that.
A new health care system affecting millions of families is being designed right now in closed-door meetings attended by a small group of Republican senators and their aides. Access to insurance, needed treatments and affordable premiums are being bargained away in exchange for the few votes needed to drag the American Health Care Act over the finish line. With 23 million people losing coverage, premiums jumping 20 percent and federal protections for those with pre-existing conditions disappearing, it’s no wonder that only 8 percent of Americans want to see it become law. (USA Today)

GOP Senators might not realize it, but not one state supports AHCA
It’s no secret that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is unpopular. In recent national polls, only about 29 percent of Americans support the bill. It is the most unpopular piece of major legislation Congress has considered in decades and much more unpopular than the Affordable Care Act. Will Republican senators vote yes on a bill this unpopular? To hang on to their jobs, senators have to keep only voters in their own states happy, not the whole nation. But New York Times estimates indicate that not one state favors it. (New York Times)

Trump knocks House health care bill as too harsh
President Donald Trump directed Senate Republicans to pass a generous health care bill at a meeting with more than a dozen GOP senators on Tuesday, arguing that the austere House health care bill is difficult to defend. The president also said Republicans risk getting savaged in the 2018 midterms if they fail to repeal Obamacare after a seven-year campaign against the law. Trump has told associates that news coverage of the House health care bill was “terrible,” in the words of one associate who has spoken with him. (Politico)

House bill puts children with disabilities and special health care needs at risk
The American Health Care Act would not only effectively end the Medicaid expansion, but radically restructure federal financing for virtually the entire Medicaid program. These changes to Medicaid would make it especially hard for children with special health care needs to get the care they need to stay healthy and succeed in life. Medicaid provides affordable and comprehensive health coverage to over 30 million children and children covered by Medicaid experience long-term health and economic gains as adults. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

States rally to save public health program slated for cuts in overhaul bill
State officials and public-health groups are pushing the Senate to preserve nearly $1 billion annually that goes to local health programs, from vaccines to antismoking campaigns, that would be halted under the House Republican bill to topple the Affordable Care Act. Officials from states led by both parties are rattled because the House-approved health-care overhaul would end payments to a prevention program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Wall Street Journal)

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