Today’s NewsStand – June 14, 2018

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

Iowa News

Iowa Medicaid director: Privatization is saving money but it’s hard to say how much
Iowa’s Medicaid director said Wednesday that he is sure Iowa taxpayers are saving money by having private companies manage the giant health-care program, even though it’s hard to say exactly how much. “I think it’s important that, regardless of the methodology, there are savings,” Iowa Medicaid Director Mike Randol told an advisory council. He gave no explanation of why the new estimate was triple the $47 million estimate his agency released a few months ago. (Des Moines Register)

Unpaid Medicaid claims threatens closure of Colfax clinic
 “We can no longer accept Amerigroup patients.” Fpeople in small-town Colfax, this sentence could mean the difference between access to local medical care or a potentially life-threatening situation. In May, the staff of Colfax Medical and Wellness clinic informed their patients they will no longer be accepting insurance claims from Amerigroup, one of three companies responsible for managing Iowa’s now privatized Medicaid system. The clinic has not received payments from the national managed care organization since August of 2017 — resulting in $30,000 of unpaid claims. (Newton Daily News)

Mental health issues can be a rocky field to plow
Most are unaware of the danger, struggles and heartbreak that most farmers deal with throughout the seasons. University of Iowa’s Emeritus Professor in Agricultural Medicine Kelley Donham explained that tragic situations like depression and suicide — something that is not often talked about — relating to the struggle over land and the farmer’s strong link to it. “Farmers are such that they still really are aware of and affected by the stigma surrounding mental health issues for them actually to seek help for that.” (Oskaloosa Herald)

National News

Kansas Medicaid woes prolong wait for autistic kids needing therapy
Autism looks very different in different people. But for those who struggle to communicate or interact with others, psychologists often point families to the kind of one-on-one treatment called applied behavior analysis. In Kansas, though, parents face long waitlists and shortages of providers. So a decade into statewide insurance reforms, more Kansans have coverage for this therapy, but that doesn’t mean kids get it. The situation is worst for children with Medicaid as their primary or secondary insurance, and those in rural areas. (High Plains Public Radio)

Work requirements for Medicaid could increase cost
The state’s plan to cut off health insurance to poor Oklahomans who don’t work could harm families and increase costs for taxpayers, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis. That could force the poor to seek treatment at safety-net providers or emergency rooms, which must treat them. Craig Jones, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, said while the number of people affected by the work requirement seems relatively small, hospitals are concerned more uninsured Oklahomans will need care in emergency rooms. (Tahlequah Daily Press)

Ohio cancels $1.1 billion Medicaid cut to hospitals
Ohio has canceled a planned $1.1 billion Medicaid cut to hospitals, saying an uptick in the economy and reshuffling money in the health care program has prevented the reduction. The cut would have represented 5 percent of what Ohio Medicaid pays hospitals to treat some 3 million program recipients. Ohio hospitals had been concerned about the cuts and had met with Ohio Medicaid officials to show them detailed analyses of hospital finances and Medicaid, said John Palmer, spokesman for the Ohio Hospital Association. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

5 things to know about Medicaid work requirements
The Trump administration’s decision in January to give states the power to impose work requirements on Medicaid enrollees faces a federal court hearing Friday. The lawsuit before the US District Court in Washington, DC, will determine whether tens of thousands of low-income adults in Kentucky will have to find jobs or volunteer in order to retain their health coverage. But the ruling could have far-reaching implications affecting millions of enrollees nationwide and determining how far the Trump administration can go in changing Medicaid without congressional action. (Kaiser Health News)