Today’s NewsStand – May 16, 2018

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

Iowa News

Henry County Iowa inmates find mental health relief with Transition Link jail program
There’s a program in the Henry County Jail that helps inmates battle mental health issues to keep them from serving time again. When an inmate first gets booked into jail, they take a mental health survey to identify at risk inmates. That person is then set up with a counselor to talk about everyday issues and connect them with mental health resources after they get out. With the program in place, Sheriff Rich McNamee says inmates are less stressed which means a safer environment for jail staff. (WQAD)

A mental health milestone: four local districts team up to create shared coordinator position
State Representative Pat Grassley may just achieve the rare feat thanks to an operational sharing modification freeing up funds for the districts to create a brand new director of student success and family services position as part of an ongoing effort to better coordinate mental health care. This is one of the first jobs of its kind shared between multiple rural Iowa school districts. “This is truly local school districts taking the initiatives and us giving them the tools they need,” said Grassley. (Grundy County Register)

Woodbury County supervisors approve move to new mental health region
Woodbury County supervisors voted to join a new region for mental health care. On a 4-1 vote, the Board of Supervisors finalized a move from the Sioux Rivers Mental Health Region to the Rolling Hills Region. Woodbury County joins the new region starting July 1 of 2019. How the county handles mental health issues until then is still undecided, but Supervisors Chairman Jeremy Taylor said the board still holds hopes of working with the Sioux Rivers Region in the interim. (Siouxland Proud)

Iowa’s new opioid law could make matters worse for some
Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill this week meant to combat the impacts of opioid abuse in Iowa. It’s one of only a few major bills to emerge from the 2018 Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support. However, the law creates limited Good Samaritan protections for those who report overdoses, but it also requires physicians to log opioid prescriptions in a statewide monitoring program. That provision interferes with doctor-patient relationships, amid growing doubts about whether that’s sound policymaking. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Trump’s plan for cheaper health insurance could have hidden costs
President Trump’s plan to expand access to skimpy short-term health insurance policies, as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, would affect more people and cost the government more money than the administration estimated, an independent federal study says. The study, by Medicare’s chief actuary, suggests that the new policies would appeal mainly to healthy people, including many who have had comprehensive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. (New York Times)

Taking aim at 340B drug program, lawmakers target both hospitals and pharma
They don’t agree on the details, but both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are ready to ramp up oversight of a federal drug discount program that hospitals generally support — and drug makers tend to want to rein in. On its face, the increasing congressional scrutiny seems like a win for the pharmaceutical industry, which has bucked against the status quo. But lawmakers at a Tuesday hearing on the program, known as 340B, signaled an interest in taking aim at both industries. (Stat)

Trump administration won’t approve lifetime limits on Medicaid
The Trump administration will not approve state requests to impose lifetime limits on Medicaid coverage, breaking with conservatives who have pushed for the strict limitation. “We’ve indicated we would not approve lifetime limits, and we’ve made that pretty clear to states,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said Tuesday. Earlier this month, the administration rejected Kansas’s request to impose lifetime limits on beneficiaries, but Maine, Arizona, Utah and Wisconsin had also requested the ability to cap how long people can receive benefits. (The Hill)

In the midst of a massive opioid crisis, hospitals are experiencing an opioid shortage
Drug shortages are nothing new in U.S. hospitals. The American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) has been monitoring shortages since 2000. Joseph Hill, director of government relations for ASHP, said the shortages this year of injectable hydromorphone, fentanyl and morphine is actually kind of frightening. Another problem hospitals and drug makers point to is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s quota system. (Marketplace)