Today’s NewsStand – March 7, 2018

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

Iowa News

ACTing on mental health in the community
A new mental health team is making their services mobile to help those often left struggling with mental illness. Vera French Assertive Community Treatment or ACT Team serves people who face severe long-term psychiatric disorders. “It’s treatment that’s based on the individual’s need,” ACT Team Lead Tania Deal said. The goal is to provide the whole treatment experience, not just for the mental illness, but help to access basic needs like housing and employment and services. It’s the first of its kind in the Quad Cities and sixth in Iowa starting in December 2017. (Our Quad Cities)

Iowa may let small employers buy health insurance that doesn’t meet Obamacare rules
Iowa legislators are moving to give small employers more freedom to band together to buy health insurance for their workers, but a central Iowa expert warns the approach might not offer much shelter from skyrocketing premiums. The “association health plan” proposal passed the Iowa Senate Monday evening and would allow insurance carriers to resume selling small-employer policies that don’t meet Affordable Care Act rules. (Des Moines Register)

Annual Iowa cancer report shows link with obesity
Obesity causes cancer — just like smoking causes cancer, and ultraviolet radiation causes cancer. “I think the public isn’t aware of that link,” George Weiner, director of the University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, said Tuesday while speaking about this year’s “Cancer in Iowa” report. Although not all “obesity-related” cancers are caused by obesity, researchers now can explain how the condition can spawn and fuel the disease. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

GCMH unveils completed renovation project
Over the past 18 months, the Grundy County Memorial Hospital (GCMH) has undergone an extensive renovation project to expand and improve the hospital’s fastest growing health care services. The $7.5 million project includes the completion of the hospital’s Specialty Clinic expansion and second floor renovation. Now, there are around 15 different visiting specialists at the hospital, and the recent expansion has added more room for these specialists, including new exam rooms and procedure rooms, as well as an expanded lobby area with private registration rooms for patients. (Grundy Register)

National News

Medicaid can be key to tackling social determinants of health
A new Georgetown University Health Policy Institute brief highlighted how addressing social determinants of health can lower health care costs, improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities. The report is the latest to suggest that Medicaid could play a key leadership role to broaden health care beyond a doctor’s office and tackle social, economic and environmental conditions. However, the federal and state governments need to invest in social safety net programs for housing, nutrition, transportation and cash assistance. (Healthcare Dive)

Trump administration’s under-the-radar attack on Medicaid is picking up speed
For now, congressional Republicans appear to have set aside efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But the Trump administration is doubling down on its attempts to seriously weaken the ACA’s Medicaid expansion by making it more difficult for millions of low-income people to get health coverage. The administration’s strategy is focused on state waivers, which do not require congressional approval. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also is considering a slew of other waivers with provisions that would break all precedent and further reduce coverage. (Washington Post)

Junk insurance plan proves Trump doesn’t care about your health
After first submitting a budget that aims to force austerity on Medicaid and Medicare recipients to pay for last year’s tax cuts that are going largely to corporations and the wealthy, the Trump administration has now followed up with a new plan to allow insurance companies to sell junk health insurance. They are called junk plans because they allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, exclude expensive conditions and place caps and lifetime limits on policies. (USA Today)

Three-digit national suicide hotline moves a step closer
Congress is considering a bill that would create a three-digit suicide and mental health hotline. The existing crisis phone line, and the crisis text line, is staffed by a mix of paid professionals and unpaid volunteers trained in crisis and suicide intervention. The bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to work with the Health and Human Services Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the existing system, suggest ways to improve it — and recommend a new three-digit number. (CNN)

Lyft deal with Allscripts lets 180,000 doctors call rides for their patients
Lyft announced today that it is expanding its partnerships with healthcare providers to provide the ride-hailing service to doctors and hospitals who want to arrange transportations for patients who can’t get to appointments. Lyft is teaming with Allscripts, one of the nation’s leading electronic health records companies, to integrate its platform into the daily routines of 2,500 hospitals, 45,000 physician practices and 180,000 physicians, reaching an estimated 7 million patients. (USA Today)