Today’s NewsStand – January 26, 2018

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

Iowa News

Care providers stuck with transportation costs for Iowa Medicaid patients
Governor Kim Reynolds is non-committal regarding the suggestion that able-bodied people should be employed to receive Medicaid benefits. But Medicaid recipients and providers argue the state of Iowa recently made it harder for recipients to show up for the jobs they already have. Shelly Chandler, the CEO of Iowa Association of Community Providers, said Iowa Medicaid Enterprise told providers they would be responsible for figuring out how to transport their clients, and also responsible for paying for it. Chandler said about 50 providers are estimated to lose millions. (WHO)

Iowa Senate plans $52 million in budget cuts, hitting universities, courts and human services
The Iowa Senate is proposing $52 million in budget cuts for the current state fiscal year that will hit hardest on state universities and community colleges, the state’s justice system and human services. The spending adjustments would have no impact on state appropriations for kindergarten-through-12 grade schools or the state’s Medicaid health care program for low-income persons. House is still working on its plan for budget cuts. (Des Moines Register)

Shortage of small-town doctors a big-time problem
Only about 9 percent of doctors nationwide practice in rural areas, according to Dr. Michael Maharry, a family doctor who works with University of Iowa Carver Medical School. And with limited resources available to lure debt-strapped young physicians to smaller communities, the maldistribution is poised to get worse. State-funded debt-forgiveness programs and other initiatives have been implemented to convince young doctors to learn and work in smaller communities. But the money available for the effort is in constant flux. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

County wrestling with mental health fund mandate
Clinton County officials are looking at how to follow through with a state-mandated decrease in the mental health fund balance. Senate File 504, approved in May, requires Clinton County and the Eastern Iowa Mental Health region to reduce its fund balance to 20 percent. The Eastern Iowa Mental Health region is composed of Clinton, Cedar, Jackson, Muscatine and Scott counties. The county and the region have two years to draw down both fund balances to 20 percent by the 2020 deadline. (Clinton Herald)

Battle Creek ambulance driver delivers during blizzard
Chris Wallace’s pager went off Monday morning, directing him to Horn Memorial Hospital in nearby Ida Grove, for a patient transfer. Wallace serves as an ambulance driver in Battle Creek. Wallace was joined on this trip by two EMTs and a nurse, transporting a patient who was in need of a run termed “advanced life support.” Like all ambulance runs, this was serious. Mother Nature made it treacherous as they had to drive through a blizzard to get the patient Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Medicaid expansion linked to increased access, quality of care
A recent study shows Medicaid expansion is linked to increased insurance coverage and improved care for patients undergoing various surgeries, specifically a 1.8 percent increase in the probability that a patient presented without complications and a 2.6 percent increase in the probability of a patient receiving optimal care. “Our findings provide important new evidence that Medicaid expansion is improving the quality of care for serious conditions,” said Andrew P. Loehrer, a clinical fellow in complex general surgical oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. (MD Magazine)

Colorado hospitals tried a new approach to treating pain. Their use of opioids plummeted.
Colorado hospitals that were part of a groundbreaking pilot project were able to dramatically reduce the amount of opioids they administered by simply focusing on alternative, safer pain treatments, according to a new study released Thursday. When the Colorado Hospital Association launched the project last summer, it set a goal of reducing opioid administration in emergency departments by 15 percent. Instead, the hospitals and emergency rooms that were part of the project reduced opioid administration by 36 percent. (Denver Post)

Shortage of mental health providers harms Georgia kids, report says
The mental health needs of many Georgia children are not being addressed, primarily because of a lack of professionals to treat them, according to a report released Monday. The report from Voices for Georgia’s Children cites a “severe shortage’’ of child and adolescent psychiatrists statewide. The shortage of qualified mental health providers is statewide, but “is exacerbated outside of metro Atlanta and in rural areas,’’ said Erica Sitkoff, executive director of Voices for Georgia’s Children. (Georgia Health News)

Providers go deeper with population health to social factors
The industry transition to value-based payments is leading to more population health management programs, but providers are finding it’s difficult when patients lack secure housing, access to food or a way to get to appointments. So many are now going beyond population health and taking into account the role that another, social determinants of health, play in a person’s health. And some state Medicaid programs, health plans and providers are starting value-based payments for behavioral health services. (Healthcare Dive)

Telehealth services are redesigning health care
A growing number of health care organizations have embraced telehealth because of the benefits it provides to patients and clinicians. It has not only expanded and improved access to health care services, but also increased patient engagement and enabled more efficient care models. And with many rural areas facing a shortage of specialists, telemedicine enables individual doctors to reach more patients. (HealthLeaders Media)