Today’s NewsStand – August 16, 2018

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

Iowa News

Kim Kopp selected as a Hospital Hero
Kim Kopp, a Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nurse at Cass County Health System, has been selected as an Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) 2018 Hospital Hero. She will be recognized on October 10 during the IHA annual meeting in Des Moines. She is one of only 10 people from across the state chosen as hospital heroes this year. “Kim is a servant leader and exemplifies our mission of providing a superior experience to everyone she is privileged to serve,” said Brett Altman, CEO of Cass County Health System. (Atlantic News Telegraph)

Telepharmacy eases staffing shortages at rural clinics and hospitals
Telepharmacy and telehealth approaches to clinical pharmacy services are helping to address pharmacist and clinician shortages in rural areas of the country. At the University of Iowa in Iowa City, the College of Pharmacy is operating a telehealth clinical pharmacist service called Centralized Healthcare Solutions. CHS is under the umbrella of the College of Pharmacy and any revenue generated flows to the university. Although CHS does not provide dispensing, it does ease staffing shortages at rural clinics. (HealthLeaders Media)

Pella Regional Health Center experiences quality improvement in ACO model
Pella Regional Health Center and its family of medical clinics has collaborated with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield since 2015 as an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), providing medical care for Wellmark members. The purpose of this ACO is to better coordinate care for patients, resulting in higher quality, lower costs and improved patient experience. Based on results in both 2016 and 2017, Pella Regional achieved the highest percent increase in quality compared to all other participating organizations as determined by Wellmark’s Value Index Score. (KNIA)

‘I know I’m helping’ volunteer says of her 45 years of service
Little did Claire Sharp know when she filled in for a friend who sorted mail at Mercy Medical Center that she would continue to volunteer her time there for the next 45 years. She is, and Sharp has no plans to stop as she approaches 10,000 hours of volunteered time. When she started, the volunteers used carts to deliver mail around the hospital. “Now you can carry the (patient) mail in your arms,” she said, attributing the decline to social media and shorter hospital stays. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

AHA continues to push HHS on Medicare billing backlog
In a brief filed in the U.S. Federal Court for the District of Columbia on Friday, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and three member hospitals reaffirmed support for remedies they say would cut the Medicare billing appeals backlog. Echoing recommendations from June, the AHA brief suggested implementing a binding deadline, which could help stop “HHS from backsliding.” The hospitals also recommended annual deadlines with fixed reduction targets to maintain steady progress. (Healthcare Dive)

Arkansas Medicaid work requirements could cost thousands coverage, data show
New data released by the state of Arkansas on Wednesday show Medicaid enrollees are struggling to comply with the state’s new work requirements, putting thousands at risk of losing health care. The requirements — which mandate that some Medicaid beneficiaries work or complete similar activities to retain benefits — went into effect in June after being approved by the Trump administration. The state’s data show that 5,426 people are in their second month of noncompliance. (The Hill)

Energy-hog hospitals: When they start thinking green, they see green
The health care sector is responsible for nearly 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. But some hospitals are revamping to becoming more energy-efficient, which can also boost the bottom line. While the environmental benefits are important, “what I’ve seen over the years is cost reductions are the prime motivator,” said Patrick Kallerman, research manager at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, which released a report outlining ways the hospital industry can help states reach environmental goals by becoming more efficient. (Kaiser Health News)

Feds urge states to encourage cheaper plans off the exchanges
For those who make too much money to qualify for health insurance subsidies on the individual market, there may be no Goldilocks moment when shopping for a plan. These consumers need better options, and in early August federal officials offered a strategy to help bring down costs for them. The guidance is from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is encouraging states to allow the sale of plans outside of those exchanges that don’t incorporate a surcharge insurers started tacking on last year. (Kaiser Health News)