Today’s NewsStand – July 9, 2018

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

Iowa News

Iowa’s Medicaid money mystery is growing old
In early June, Medicaid Director Mike Randol offered lackluster answers to the Council on Human Services as to how his savings estimates were calculated. According to his projections, Iowans would save $140.9 million by the end of the fiscal year. But that figure appears to be tied to projected expenses of privatized Medicaid. Randol didn’t explain why projected savings continue to shift. No cumulative number has been offered to show program savings since privatized Medicaid began in April 2016. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

A private Medicaid manager is trying to slash a paralyzed Iowa man’s care. Again.
Jamie Campbell can’t believe his Medicaid management company is messing with his care again. Campbell, who is paralyzed from the neck down, lives in his home with daily assistance from aides paid by Iowa’s Medicaid program. UnitedHealthcare, which the state hired to help manage Medicaid, tried last year to drastically reduce the amount of in-home help Campbell could receive. Campbell is among scores of disabled Iowans who have complained about Medicaid managed care companies trying to save money by cutting the assistance they receive at home. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa needs to invest in caregiving infrastructure
Iowa, like the whole nation, is getting older, and our care needs are growing. Unfortunately, elected officials aren’t taking on this responsibility, and families are paying a disastrous price. Iowa’s privatized Medicaid — the largest payer of long-term services and supports — has resulted in devastating cuts for older adults and people with disabilities who need home care, as well as the dedicated workers who provide the assistance necessary to keep them from prematurely entering nursing homes. These cuts force impossible choices for families. (Des Moines Register)

Medical researchers, engineers look to nanovaccines to fight pancreatic cancer
Researchers from Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska Medical Center are hoping they can help improve the prognosis for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They’re working together to combine strategies, technologies and expertise to develop nanovaccine platforms to combat pancreatic cancer. Their idea is to load fragments of certain proteins associated with pancreatic cancer into nanoparticles that can be introduced into the body. The proteins would arm a patient’s immune system and help it target and kill cancer cells. (Iowa State University)

National News

Trump administration halts billions in insurance payments under Obamacare
The Trump administration on Saturday halted billions of dollars in payments to health insurers under the Obamacare healthcare law, saying that a recent federal court ruling prevents the money from being disbursed. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers programs under the Affordable Care Act, said the action affects $10.4 billion in risk adjustment payments. The payments are intended to help stabilize health insurance markets by compensating insurers that had sicker, more expensive enrollees in 2017. (Reuters/CNBC)

Health care crisis: Rural Americans are most vulnerable to suicide
While the highly publicized deaths of celebrities frequently shock America, rural areas are suffering the most. Each year, thousands of Americans in small towns take their own lives after suffering without adequate access to mental health professionals. But even if rural Americans had access to mental health facilities, it may not come quickly enough for some. For that very reason, suicide prevention should be a national priority with schools, work sites, faith-based organizations, communities and individuals. Health care professionals also have a key role in addressing mental illnesses. (Des Moines Register)

Medicaid expansion, hospital tax await Maine legislature
Medicaid expansion is once again at the center of debate in Maine, where Governor Paul LePage, voters and health policy advocates are at loggerheads over the issue. Since stable funding for Medicaid expansion is one of the primary reasons for LePage’s vetoes, he has proposed an increase on the state hospital tax to cover the cost of expansion. A Maine Hospital Association representative said that Maine hospitals already pay $100 million in taxes annually and would oppose the measure. (HealthLeaders Media)

Trump ‘very close’ to Supreme Court decision, but may wait until final hours
President Trump sought to mine a last bit of drama from his decision on a Supreme Court nominee on Sunday, saying he might need to extend the process well into Monday, just hours before he is scheduled to announce the pick in a prime-time address. “I’m very close to making a decision,” Mr. Trump said on Sunday afternoon as he boarded Air Force One to return to Washington after a weekend spent golfing at his private club in Bedminster, N.J., and soliciting opinions from dozens of people about what he should do. (New York Times)