Today’s NewsStand – January 4, 2018

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

Iowa News

#IamMedicaidIowa campaign aims to sway lawmakers
Disability Rights Iowa is urging Iowans to go online and share their stories about problems with the private companies that manage care for Iowa Medicaid patients. Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, says the #IamMedicaidIowa campaign grew out of a December forum that highlighted what Hudson calls “turmoil” in the program. According to Hudson, the system is “so chaotic right now,” many disabled Medicaid patients do not have a consistent contact to discuss their case. (Radio Iowa)

What’s the driving force behind UnityPoint Health’s continued ACO success?
When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the results of the first year of its Next Generation ACO (accountable care organization) model in October, a major takeaway was that both the financial savings and quality scores in year one were strong across the board. Aric Sharp, vice president of UnityPoint Accountable Care (UAC), says there were several reasons why the Next Gen model was a fit for UAC, including prospective attribution, a recognition of risk score and how that moves over the course of the program. (Healthcare Informatics)

MCPD receives mental health grant
Mason City Police know there is a mental health crisis on the horizon in the community, so they are hoping to change that. The U.S. Department of Justice recently granted $75,000 to Mason City Police Department (MCPD) in order develop a plan to deal with co-existing substance abuse and mental health disorders. The money will go toward hiring a liaison that will work with officers and mental health providers, helping to promote effective interactions between police and those in the community who need real help. (KIMT)

Two private colleges join to educate more nurses
The push to prepare more nurses to fill a growing shortage within the profession is resulting in another educational collaboration. A partnership between Drake University and Mercy College of Health Sciences will enable students to earn two bachelor degrees in four years. They will come away with a BS degree in Health Sciences from Drake and a BS in Nursing from Mercy. The dean of the school of nursing at Mercy College, Nancy Kertz, says the accelerated program will help fill a significant number of job openings in nursing. (Iowa Public Radio)

GRMC and UnityPoint Health finalize affiliation
UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC), in partnership with University of Iowa Health Care, announced today they have finalized an affiliation agreement between the organizations. The formal affiliation was effective January 1, 2018. Under the affiliation, UnityPoint Health – Des Moines will become the sole corporate member of Grinnell Regional Medical Center, which will be referred to as UnityPoint Health – Grinnell Regional Medical Center. (Des Moines Register)

Great River Health Systems and Fort Madison Community Hospital evaluating merger
Two southeast Iowa hospitals are looking to turn competition into collaboration. Great River Health Systems announced Friday it has entered into an agreement with Fort Madison Community Hospital to evaluate a merger between the two facilities. The hospitals will determine the viability of a merger during the next three to six months. A merger would help ensure continuation of high-quality primary and specialty care in southeast Iowa by a locally-owned health system. (Burlington Hawk Eye)

National News

Hospitals slam Kansas’ proposed Medicaid overhaul
Providers are concerned that a new waiver to overhaul Kansas’ Medicaid program will impede access to care and further empower managed care plans, which they claim lack proper oversight.
The state waiver includes a work requirement proposal for so-called able-bodied adults, which includes a three-month coverage lockout penalty if beneficiaries don’t comply. The Kansas Hospital Association claims the state hasn’t created an exception for adults who live in rural areas where there are few job opportunities. (Modern Healthcare)

Trump administration rolls out bid to expand association health plans
The Trump administration Thursday proposed new rules following up on the president’s pledge to let certain small businesses and trade groups band together to buy health care, a move that could weaken the Obamacare insurance marketplaces. The expansion of so-called association health plans is part of a broader effort to encourage the rise of cheaper coverage options that don’t comply with certain Obamacare patient protections and benefit rules. (Politico)

New Hampshire hospitals sound alarm over supply shortages tied to Hurricane Maria
At hospitals across the New Hampshire, pharmacy managers have spent the last three months scrambling to deal with an unexpected fallout from the September storm that knocked out power to Puerto Rico: a backlog in the supplies they need to perform all kinds of routine medical procedures, from IV drips to surgeries. Hospitals have been able to come up with short-term alternatives — but the task of managing the ongoing uncertainty around some of their most basic supplies has become a daily burden. (New Hampshire Public Radio)

US physician workforce is getting old, fast
The nation’s Baby Boomer physician workforce is aging along with the larger population. Specialists are on average older than are primary care doctors. It’s not just primary care physicians who are in short supply. Merritt Hawkins says it’s time to acknowledge the growing shortage of medical specialists, too. “The notion that we should be training more primary care physicians while maintaining or reducing the supply of specialists is a grave miscalculation,” said Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins. “We should be training more of both types of physicians.” (HealthLeaders Media)

‘Forget about the stigma’: Male nurses explain why nursing is a job of the future for men
The experiences of male nurses offer lessons that could help address a problem of our time: how to prepare workers for the fastest-growing jobs, at a time when more than a quarter of adult men are not in the labor force. Only 13 percent of nurses in the United States are men, but that share has grown steadily since 1960, when the number was 2 percent. In interviews, men said they liked the variety of work: Nurses can be bedside caregivers, surgery assistants, educators, technicians or administrators. (New York Times)