Today’s NewsStand – July 10, 2018

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

Iowa News

Few clear answers on Iowa Medicaid savings
When the State of Iowa privatized the management of Medicaid services, quality improvements and cost reductions were promised. So far, that has been hard to track. State Senator Randy Feenstra of Hull says legislators have questions too. Feenstra, Chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, says they have been told there are cost reductions, but with few specifics. Feenstra says small rural hospitals and clinics are very concerned about timely payments for Medicaid services. (WNAX)

Local hospitals experiencing national drug shortage, but making do
Critical drugs such as morphine, fentanyl and saline bags have been difficult for pharmacies and hospitals nationwide to keep on hand due to several factors in recent months. To counteract the problem, Chris Clayton, UnityPoint’s regional director of retail services in Waterloo, and his pharmaceutical staff use several strategies. If they know a particular drug is frequently in short supply, and they see it’s available to order, they’ll order extra. And Clayton now places orders throughout the day instead of his usual once per day. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

Presentation at Manning Regional Health Center provides insights into advanced directives
Earlier this month, Manning Regional Healthcare Center (MRHC) hosted an event to help people understand what advance directives are and the proper way to go about ensuring that their final wishes are honored, even if they can no longer speak for themselves. “Advance directives help you to protect your right to make medical choices that can affect your life,” says MRHC education coordinator and registered nurse Julie Hodne. (KCIM)

National News

Uncertainty reigns after $10 billion in ACA risk adjustments frozen
There’s a great deal of uncertainty among health insurers after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) confirmed over the weekend that it would halt $10.4 billion in planned risk-adjustment payments for the 2017 benefit year. The announcement came Saturday evening after The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Trump administration was expected to suspend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) program, prompting concerned insurers to call for a quick resolution and critics to accuse the government of further chipping away at the ACA’s foundation. (HealthLeaders Media)

Azar makes case for revamping hospital drug discounts — to hospitals defending them
The Trump administration is looking at “comprehensive” changes to the so-called 340B program as part of its work to lower prescription drug prices, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday, in a surprisingly direct speech before a ballroom full of representatives for the hospitals and clinics that have called for stronger protections for the program. The program known has been the subject of an increasingly contentious debate that pits pharmaceutical companies, which want to rein in the federal drug discount program, against the participating hospitals that receive the discounts. (Stat)

What Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination could mean for health care
President Donald Trump announced Monday evening that he will nominate D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve as the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. The nomination would replace Kennedy’s swing vote with a more-reliably conservative voice, perhaps with long-reverberating consequences for the nation’s health care policy. Kavanaugh’s past rulings on politically charged health care topics are likely to face fresh scrutiny as senators mull his possible confirmation. (HealthLeaders Media)

Amazon Business’s medical supply chain ambitions: 4 things to know
Amazon Business is looking to disrupt the health care supply chain amid accelerating hospital operating expenses, flattening admissions and an increasing need to cut costs. Under pressure to pare down unnecessary spending, supply chain professionals are increasingly rethinking traditional distribution and supplier models to gain a competitive advantage. Much has been discussed concerning the Amazon-BerkshireHathaway-JPMorgan employee health cost endeavor but one can’t ignore Amazon’s subtle foray into the supply chain sector. (Healthcare Dive)