Today’s NewsStand — May 26, 2017

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

Iowa News

A Sioux City health care provider shares her challenges with Iowa’s privatized Medicaid program
Jessica McHugh is the former owner of AbleKids Pediatric Therapy in Sioux City. She started AbleKids in 2010 offering physical, occupational, speech and sensory therapy to kids of all ages. However, McHugh had to sell her business just last year because McHugh said could no longer fight the fight against Iowa’s privatized Medicaid program. (KTIV)

Privatized Medicaid was supposed to save money?
The managed care organizations believe Iowa’s Medicaid program is “drastically underfunded” and claim that during their first year of operation in Iowa, they each lost more than $100 million. In fact, AmeriHealth claimed losses of nearly $300 million and then informed providers of home- and community-based services it would no longer pay them the agreed-upon rates, but instead would pay them the absolute minimum Medicaid rate, regardless of the individual patients’ needs. That’s a critical cost-cutting maneuver that will make it harder for providers to offer in-home caregiving for the elderly and the disabled. (Des Moines Register)

Patients in rural hospitals can save thousands if local hospital is part of tele-emergency room network
Patients in small towns can save thousands of dollars in health care costs if their local rural hospital is part of a tele-emergency room network, according to a new study from the University of Iowa. Patients can save about $5,600 a year in transportation and other expenses by staying in their local hospital and avoiding transfer to a larger hospital elsewhere, the study found. “The cost savings is significant and should help more rural health systems recognize the financial and non-financial value of telemedicine,” says Nabil Natafgi, a co-author of the study. (Iowa Now)

Reynolds taps Adam Gregg as lieutenant governor, but there’s a catch
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday appointed Adam Gregg, the state’s public defender, as her lieutenant governor. But there’s a catch. In deference to a legal opinion issued this month by the state attorney general, Gregg will hold the title of lieutenant governor, but will not be responsible for its sole constitutional function. Should Reynolds leave office, the vacancy would be filled not by Gregg but instead by Senate President Jack Whitver. (Des Moines Register)

UI researchers find unexpected communication between brain regions involved in infant motor control
A newborn’s brain is abuzz with activity. Though much of how the infant brain works and develops remains a mystery, University of Iowa (UI) researchers say they have uncovered a new mode of communication between two relatively distant regions. And, it turns out that sleep is key to this communication. They also suspect disruptions to that linkage may contribute to the motor-control problems that often accompany disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. (Iowa Now)

Family history of Alzheimer’s may alter metabolic gene that increases risk for disease
A new Iowa State University (ISU) study may have identified the link that explains years of conflicting research over a mitochondrial gene and the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This study is the latest piece of the puzzle Auriel Willette, an ISU assistant professor of food science and human nutrition who led the study, and his colleagues are putting together in an effort to lower the risk for Alzheimer’s, and ultimately prevent people from getting the disease. (Iowa State University)

National News

Trump budget cuts may stir backlash in rural America
President Donald Trump’s proposals to slash federal aid to the poor, the sick and people living in rural areas reflect conservatives’ demands for a smaller federal government but target many of the very people who voted for him last November. In his first detailed budget submission to Congress on Tuesday, Trump requested major reductions to programs that help poor families afford groceries and poor and disabled people get health care. (Reuters)

Strategies to defend unpopular health bill: euphemisms, false statements and deleted comments
As Republican members of Congress seek to roll back the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly called Obamacare, and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), they have adopted various strategies to influence and cope with public opinion, which, polls show, mostly opposes their plan. ProPublica, with our partners at Kaiser Health News, Stat and Vox, has been fact-checking members of Congress in this debate and we’ve found misstatements on both sides, though more by Republicans than Democrats. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has similarly found misstatements by both sides. (ProPublica/Kaiser Health News)

Insurers send wish list to Senate
The insurance industry’s biggest lobbying group on Thursday sent a wish list to the Republican-led Senate about the types of changes they would like to see in a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, including a recommendation to control health spending. The group noted that “the individual market clearly faces immediate and significant challenges, especially for the 2018 plan year.” The group attributed some of the problems to both the structural issues with the law as well as to the uncertainties insurers face about the future of the law. (Washington Examiner)

Millions of ill people may face ‘extremely high’ premiums under House bill, CBO says
The Republican overhaul of the health law would result in slightly lower premiums and slightly fewer uninsured Americans. But it would leave as many as one-sixth of Americans living in states where older and sicker people might have to pay much more for their health care or be unable to purchase insurance at all, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. In some states, “less healthy people would face extremely high premiums, despite the additional funding that would be available.” (Kaiser Health News)