Today’s NewsStand – May 14, 2018

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

Iowa News

Iowan exposes his own mental illness and encourages others to ‘come out’
It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and this time Ross Trowbridge isn’t running for cover. He’s organized, and advocating for people like himself. The 38-year-old who lives in Waterloo suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, a fact he had felt the need to hide. Trowbridge now wants to put a human face on people with mental illness, to show that most people is now organizing a “coming out” day he calls Project I Am Not Ashamed. He’s inviting people with mental illness everywhere to set aside four hours on August 18, to carry signs identifying their mental illness, with the “I am not ashamed” tagline and to areas with high foot traffic. (Des Moines Register)

Allen Hospital gets ‘telepsych’ technology to address mental health crisis
UnityPoint Health Allen Hospital is making some changes this year in response to the mental health crisis. Right now, mental health patients in Iowa, especially in rural areas, can wait days, or even months, to get the care they need. While there’s no easy solution to the state’s mental health crisis, Allen Hospital says they’re hoping some newer technology they have this year can help connect more psychiatrists to Waterloo. The hospital is now using telepsychiatry, which focuses specifically on connecting psychiatrists from all over the country with mental health patients, getting them the care plan they need at a faster rate. (KWWL)

Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital to expand
Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital will build a 60,000-square foot medical office building across from its existing Pierce Street campus. The new building will become home to primary care physicians, women’s services and urgent care services, according to hospital officials. The facility will allow Jennie Edmundson to expand its roster of primary care clinic providers from eight to 15. “This is very exciting for our community,” said Steve Baumert, president and CEO of the hospital. Construction of the medical office building will begin at the end of 2018, with completion anticipated by the first quarter of 2020. (Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil)

National News

As Virginia budget fight resumes, hospitals balance benefits of expanding Medicaid, cost of tax
Nearly four years ago, three of Virginia’s private nonprofit health systems proposed to tax themselves to help pay for hospital indigent care and medical education. The idea was to impose an assessment on their hospital revenues that would serve as matching funds to gain an equal amount of federal Medicaid money to subsidize their costs for uncompensated health care and medical education. That proposal was the unintended seed of a plan that now towers over a state budget battle. Virginia’s hospitals are divided over the provider assessment, which they regard a less preferable way to cover costs that state general fund tax revenues should pay. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Eyes turn to Vermont as it sees success with health system
A Vermont health care organization working to keep patients healthier while reducing costs is being closely watched because of its rate of success. The long-term goal of OneCare Vermont is to expand it so that about 70 percent of health care services provided in Vermont are covered by the system, which encourages patients to stay healthier using specialized care, such as helping them manage chronic conditions like diabetes so they don’t wind up needing more expensive treatment. Twelve states have Medicaid programs using variations of the model being used in Vermont, and another nine are planning them. (Associated Press/ABC News)

Louisiana mental health advocates bracing for $50 million budget cut
This year, mental health service providers in Louisiana see a picture of the future that’s particularly dire as the state approaches a fiscal cliff July 1. A House-approved budget would slash $50 million in state and federal Medicaid dollars for mental health services, eliminating outpatient programs that bring treatment to people in their homes, guide them through the health care system and teach them how to cope and live independently. The cuts would also reduce Medicaid reimbursement rates for inpatient psychiatric hospitals. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

He cycled between the streets and ER four times since February. Is this program the answer?
David Anthony Cook is 57 years old and homeless. During his first three months of living on the streets of Sacramento, he cycled four times through UC Davis, the city’s only public hospital. It is a cycle that repeats itself regularly among Sacramento’s homeless men and women, and one that the community’s pilot Whole Person Care program intends to address. The $64 million program targets homeless people who are frequent users of costly emergency medical services. Cook appears to be a case study for Whole Person Care, which is designed to bring hospitals, behavioral health centers, housing programs and others together to coordinate services for homeless people. (Sacramento Bee)

Virtual doctor visits are getting more popular, but questions remain about who pays
Tucked into the federal budget law Congress passed in February was a provision that significantly expands the use of telemedicine — long a hyped health care reform and now poised to go mainstream within five to 10 years. The new law allows Medicare to cover telemedicine services for people who have had a stroke and those who get kidney dialysis. It also permits Medicare Advantage plans to offer telemedicine as a covered benefit. As acceptance and adoption of telemedicine expands, so does coverage. (Washington Post)