Today’s NewsStand – July 5, 2018

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

Iowa News

Lucas County Health Center and Clarke County Hospital partnership focuses on patient care
Lucas County Health Center (LCHC) and Clarke County Hospital, both affiliates of UnityPoint Health – Des Moines, are working to improve the patient care experiences in their individual communities and exploring how the two facilities can better work together. In a time when there is a shortage of health care workers, the two facilities have begun a new, unique agreement – a shared ultrasound service. “This partnership provides us with the unique opportunity to focus not on competing with each other, but rather on building each other up,” said Brian Sims, LCHC CEO. (Osceola Sentinel-Tribune)

National marijuana firm to build multimillion-dollar production facility in Cedar Rapids
One of the nation’s largest legal marijuana companies intends to spend millions of dollars to move into Iowa’s limited market for medical marijuana. The Iowa Department of Public Health last week awarded a cannabis manufacturing license to Iowa Relief, which plans to grow and process marijuana in Cedar Rapids. Until last week, just one company, MedPharm Iowa, held a state permit to grow and process medical marijuana under Iowa’s fledgling medical marijuana program. (Des Moines Register)

5 Iowa cities make list of top 10 most dangerous cities for cyclists
A new report from ADT Security Services named Iowa the most dangerous state for cyclists. Five Iowa cities – Webster City, Waterloo, Sioux City, Johnston and Des Moines – rank among the top 10 most dangerous in the country. The cities in the ADT report have a higher percentage of fatal crashes and lower percentage of commuters. Sgt. Paul Parizek said the Des Moines Police Department works hard to create a safe environment for cyclists and is constantly trying to update the community to make it more inclusive for riders. (KCCI)

As blood donations decline in the summer, a 7-year-old shows why it matters
In January 2017, seven-year-old Otto Phelps was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that put him in the hospital for two-months straight. During the worst of it, Otto was receiving a blood transfusion every day. The summer months bring big challenges for the DeGowin Blood Center, which serves the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The center struggles to fill appointments around the Fourth of July holiday especially, when many regular donors are out of town and much of the student population is gone. (University of Iowa Daily Iowan)

National News

Missouri adds new Medicaid leverage for managed care companies
Tension between managed care organizations (MCOs) and hospitals is boiling in Missouri, where the state is docking Medicaid payments for providers who don’t join one of the three MCOs. The move has sparked an outcry from hospitals. “By tipping the leverage toward the state’s MCOs, the change gives the plans unilateral rate-setting power,” Missouri Hospital Association CEO Herb Kuhn wrote. “If a hospital doesn’t agree to accept whatever payment rate the Medicaid managed care plan offers, the plan can simply refuse to sign a contract, locking in the fee-for-service level cut.” (Modern Healthcare)

Maine governor says hospital tax could cover Medicaid expansion
Maine’s Republican governor is publicly laying out a proposed tax hike on hospitals to pay for voter-approved Medicaid expansion. Governor Paul LePage’s office says Medicaid expansion will offset a tax hike by decreasing charity care and bad debt. Maine’s hospital tax rate is 2.23 percent, and it could go up to six percent. Maine Hospital Association lobbyist Jeffrey Austin previously told The Associated Press that Maine hospitals pay $100 million in annual taxes and would oppose an increase. (Charlotte Observer)

Kentucky governor cuts dental, vision benefits to nearly 500K Medicaid recipients
Governor Matt Bevin’s administration announced it is cutting Medicaid dental and vision benefits to nearly half a million Kentuckians after a judge on Friday rejected his plan to overhaul the government health plan. The decision prompted an outcry Monday from Democrats who called the Republican governor’s move rash, harsh and possibly illegal. The news created confusion among local clinics that provide dental services to Medicaid patients. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Obamacare is proving hard to kill
As health insurers across the country begin filing their proposed rates for 2019, one thing is clear: The market created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) shows no signs of imminent collapse in spite of the continuing threats by Republicans to destroy it. In fact, while President Trump may insist that the law has been “essentially gutted,” the ACA market appears to be more robust than ever, according to insurance executives and analysts. (New York Times)