Today’s NewsStand – August 1, 2018

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

Iowa News

Northeast Iowa Behavioral Health works to put mental health on same level as physical
Northeast Iowa Behavioral Health is one of the few options for those in the area to receive the mental health and substance abuse therapy support they require to live a happy, healthy life. The agency has its main clinics in Decorah and Oelwein, but is proud to offer satellite branches in Waukon, Elkader, West Union and Cresco, featuring 12 experienced therapists. Clinical director and therapist Becky Loven, who has worked in the agency for over 12 years, is proud to be able to hold a busy schedule, with many patients from around the area working with her each day. (Clayton County Register)

Report shows progress in addressing opioid abuse
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has the fourth-lowest rate of members who have been diagnosed with opioid-use disorder among Blue Cross Blue Shield companies, according to a new report. Among Wellmark members, 3 in 1,000 had that diagnosis last year, compared with 5.9 in 1,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield members nationally, according to “The Opioid Epidemic in America: An Update” conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield. The rate of opioid prescriptions written for Wellmark members decreased by 30 percent between 2013 and 2017, the report showed. (Des Moines Business Record)

UnitedHealthcare CEO leaves company
UnitedHealthcare of the River Valley, an Iowa Medicaid managed care organization, is under new leadership. Company officials confirmed Tuesday morning that Kim Foltz, COE of the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Iowa, is leaving the company “to pursue other opportunities.” The company did not comment on the nature of Foltz’s departure or why she has left the company. Bror Hultgren will serve as interim CEO, effective immediately. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Trump administration loosens restrictions on short-term health plans
Insurers will again be able to sell short-term health insurance good for up to 12 months under final rules released Wednesday by the Trump administration. This action overturns an Obama administration directive that limited such plans to 90 days. It also adds a new twist: If they wish, insurers can make the short-term plans renewable for up to three years. But the plans could also raise premiums for those who remain in the Affordable Care Act marketplace — and the short-term coverage is far more limited. (Kaiser Health News)

Individual market enrollment dropping amid premium increases
Enrollment in the individual health insurance market — the market for people who don’t get coverage through work — has declined 12 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same period last year, according to a new analysis released Tuesday. The analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed enrollment in the individual market grew substantially after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and remained steady in 2016, before dropping by 12 percent in 2017. (The Hill)

Hospitals work to improve maternal health
There is no question that more should be done to improve care for new and expectant mothers. That is why hospitals across the country have led national improvement projects — to test new ideas and disseminate practices that improve care for all. The American Hospital Association is a convener and conduit of information for nearly 5,000 member hospitals and health care systems, particularly around efforts to improve care. AHA provides hospitals and health systems with education, tools, resources and technical assistance on key issues, including maternal health. (USA Today)

In Tennessee, where you live can affect your mental health
It is estimated that more than 1 million Tennesseans ages 18 and older have a mental health or substance use disorder. Many are uninsured. Studies have shown that the risk for serious mental illness is generally higher in cities, but those living in rural areas can face greater barriers to diagnosis and treatment due to lack of services and access to transportation. Experts say the state has one of the best first-response systems in the country, serving every Tennessee county, but before and after a mental health emergency finding help can be a challenge. (Tennessean)