Today’s NewsStand – November 20, 2018

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

Iowa News

Incoming auditor says Medicaid is his top priority
Iowa’s incoming state auditor says his first priority when he takes office in January is to look at where things are in a state audit of Medicaid. That’s the government health insurance program for low-income and disabled Iowans. The privatization of Medicaid’s management was a dominant issue in the governor’s race. Rob Sand was the only Democrat elected in a statewide race to replace a Republican incumbent. He says he doesn’t know the status of the audit but will meet with the current auditor after the Thanksgiving holiday. (Iowa Public Radio)

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s unveils new pediatric playroom
Kids shouldn’t have to be in the hospital, but if they are, they should get to feel like normal kids. That’s the idea behind the new pediatric playroom at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s. It has dry erase boards for drawing and a gaming system. Donations from community members made this possible, along with a 25-thousand dollar Gilchrist grant. Children’s Miracle Network says this will encourage children to be more active alongside their families while they’re getting treatment. (Siouxland Proud)

‘Together In Song’ chorus to present its first concert at Mercy Medical Center
A chorus formed for individuals with dementia and other chronic conditions will present its inaugural concert next week. Together in Song will perform Monday in the Hallagan Education Center at Mercy Medical Center. The concert is free and open to the public. The group was formed by the Family Caregiver Center of Mercy at Mercy Medical Center as an opportunity for individuals dealing with chronic conditions — such as cancer and dementia — as well as their caregivers and other volunteers. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Arkansas’s Medicaid experiment has proved disastrous
This summer, Arkansas became the first state to require poor people to prove they’re employed to receive Medicaid. Critics say the state is trying to save money on the backs of the poor. That’s nonsense, Arkansas officials reply. Thirteen other states are pursuing similar policies. They’d do well to pause their plans. For many low-income families, the Arkansas experiment has already proved disastrous. More than 12,000 have been purged from the state Medicaid rolls since September — and not necessarily because they’re actually failing to work 80 hours a month, as the state requires. (Washington Post)

House Democrats target DOJ decision not to defend Obamacare
Democrats will scrutinize the Trump administration’s decision not to defend Obamacare in federal court, when Democrats take control of the U.S. House of Representatives next year, a leading Democrat said on Monday. In June, the Department of Justice declared the health care law’s individual mandate unconstitutional in federal court, which threatened to undermine insurance protections for people with preexisting conditions, and helped make health care a winning issue for Democrats in House elections on November 6. (Reuters)

Telehealth laws inhibit widespread use in Medicare population, CMS says
Restrictions on where Medicare patients can receive telehealth services are limiting use of the technology, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a report last week to Congress. Current laws and regulations also prevent Medicare enrollees and dual eligible from accessing telehealth services in their homes. That and the restrictions limiting originating sites to rural areas are “the greatest barrier preventing the expansion of Medicare telehealth services,” according to the report. (Healthcare Dive)

Buyers of short-term health plans: Wise or shortsided
Supporters of the nation’s health law condemn them. A few states, including California and New York, have banned them. Other states limit them. But to some insurance brokers and consumers, short-term insurance plans are an enticing, low-cost alternative for healthy people. Some plans have exclusions that could blindside consumers, such as not covering hospitalizations that occur on a Friday or Saturday or any injuries from sports or exercise, said Claire McAndrew, director of campaigns and partnership for Families USA, a consumer advocacy group. (Kaiser Health News)