Today’s NewsStand – October 8, 2018

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

Iowa News

Voters would benefit from prompt Medicaid audit release
Privatization of the state’s Medicaid program has become a top issue in Statehouse campaigns this fall, especially in the race for governor. And at the center of that debate is the question of whether the switch to private managed care is saving money or actually is costing Iowa more. Savings estimates coming from Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration have been a moving target. Recent numbers show a significant increase in per-patient costs. Officials in charge of the program have been unable to provide clarity. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

New technology and services broaden scope of surgical care at St. Anthony Regional Hospital
St. Anthony Regional Hospital reports a total of 7,500 surgeries were performed at their hospital in 2017, and says they are estimating the 2018 numbers to be even higher. In meeting the needs of area patients, new services and advanced technologies that have been added are partly responsible for the increased numbers. “The St. Anthony Surgical Center uses advanced laparoscopic and robotic technology, which allows surgeons to perform with more precision by using a small robotic hand,” explains Dawn Bonham, director of surgical services. (CBC Online)

Mercy receives $250,000 grant from Variety
Mercy Foundation has received a $250,000 grant from Variety — the Children’s Charity to enhance care and services for children at Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines. Mercy Children’s Hospital & Clinics will use the grant to purchase 45 new bassinets for the mother/baby unit as well as create innovative, new indoor play areas at Mercy’s downtown campus. In addition, House of Mercy will receive a Variety van that will be used to transport client children to needed engagements including medical appointments and educational activities. (Des Moines Business Record)

Family donates shirts to change cancer patient’s lives
A local family donated 900 shirts to Blank Children’s Hospital designed to make cancer patients more comfortable. The shirts have two zippers that open the collar, giving doctor’s access to the patient’s port. A port is a small implant located on the patient’s shoulder, used to give them chemotherapy. The idea started when 5-year-old Avril Shahan, who has been fighting leukemia for over a year, hated removing her shirt every time the doctors needed to access her port. Avril’s aunt discovered the shirt design and they made a significant difference in her appointments. (We Are Iowa)

National News

Unpaid hospital bills surge to 1 billion dollars in Wisconsin
A new report out indicates Wisconsin hospitals are looking at a mounting debt of unpaid bills. According to a Wisconsin Hospital Association report the state’s hospitals debt is more than 1.1 billion dollars. The executive director of ABC for Health, Bobby Peterson says the Affordable Care Act helped reduce uncompensated care. Peterson says President Donald Trump’s administration’s policy decisions may have reversed the act’s effects. (Associated Press/TMJ)

CMS to post more hospital accrediting information online
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said Thursday it will make some changes to its oversight of hospital accrediting organizations, including making more information publicly available and piloting direct observation of surveys. The American Hospital Association (AHA) didn’t outright oppose the proposal at the time, but did question whether details of inspections should be public. AHA said Friday it was reviewing the latest announcement and did not have an immediate comment. (Healthcare Dive)

Local population health programs show promise, studies show
Increasingly, providers, payers and community-based organizations are coming to understand the role that social determinants of health play in the health of a person and the health of communities. Providers are finding it not only difficult to help patients who lack secure housing, food and a way to get to their scheduled appointments, but also costly when those patients miss appointments, wind up in emergency rooms with non-emergency conditions and are regularly re-admitted when their chronic conditions aren’t managed. (Healthcare Dive)

Companies continue to pass health costs to workers
If your employer is sticking you with a bigger share of the medical bill before health insurance kicks in, you may have to get used to it. More companies are making workers pay an annual deductible or increasing the amount they must spend before insurance starts covering most care, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Annual deductibles for single coverage have now climbed about eight times as fast as wages over the last decade. (Associated Press)