Today’s NewsStand – December 13, 2018

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

Iowa News

Frustrations continue with Medicaid managed care
While state politicians and officials squabble about the pros and cons of Medicaid privatization, the providers dealing with the program keep plugging away. When then Gov. Terry Branstad implemented the privatization of Medicaid in April 2016, the claim was that the 600,000 Iowans utilizing the program would receive better care and save the state $232 million every year. A November estimate released by outgoing state auditor Mary Mosiman figured the savings at $126 million for 2018. (Northwest Iowa News)

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics complete emergency biocontainment drill
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics initiated emergency protocols on Tuesday after an individual was admitted to the hospital with an unknown infections disease. At least, that’s the scenario hospital officials played out Tuesday morning in a first-ever emergency drill conducted at the Iowa City Municipal Airport to prepare staff in the event of a transport of a patient with an unknown infectious disease to their facilities. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Storm Lake hospital offers advanced MRI
Buena Vista Regional Medical Center is excited to announce the installation of new scanning technology that combines the latest advancements in Magnetic Resonance Imaging with the sophisticated engineering of a 1.5T wide bore system. BVRMC Radiologist Dr. Ingrid Franze says, “The scanner offers new features and improvements to raise the level of imaging performance and quality designed to boost productivity, enhance patient comfort and deliver diagnostic clinical confidence to users and patients alike.” (Storm Lake Times)

National News

Obamacare sign-ups surge in final weeks but lag last year’s numbers
More people are signing up for Obamacare plans as the open enrollment period comes to a close, but the overall numbers are down compared to last year. From Dec. 2 to 8, the sixth week of open enrollment, 934,269 people signed up for coverage via healthcare.gov, the most in any one-week period this year. That compares with the 1,073,921 sign-ups from the same period in 2017. Overall, enrollment is down 12 percent compared to last year. (The Hill)

Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in America, CDC confirms
Fentanyl is now the most commonly used drug involved in drug overdoses, according to a new government report. The latest numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics say that the rate of drug overdoses involving the synthetic opioid skyrocketed by about 113 percent each year from 2013 through 2016. The number of total drug overdoses jumped 54 percent each year between 2011 and 2016. In 2016, there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths. (CNN)

Telemedicine demand spurs rural broadband push in Texas
Rural areas have long suffered from the lack of broadband connectivity. But the demand for telemedicine in Texas, which can virtually bring doctors and nurses to poor, rural areas with few clinicians, is renewing state and federal efforts to improve internet infrastructure. Texas lawmakers are filing bills that broaden the use of telemedicine to provide mental health counseling and deliver forensic care to sexual assault survivors. Yet as Texas and other states open the doors to telemedicine, providers can’t afford the high-speed connections they need to install the remote service. (Politico)

Dems aim to punt vote on Obamacare taxes
Health-care companies are making a last-minute push to delay Obamacare taxes as part of a year-end government funding deal, but they face resistance from Democrats who want to punt the issue until next year when they control the House. Powerful health-care lobbies are pushing lawmakers to delay the implementation of the taxes, worried about taking a financial hit. Lawmakers have voted to push off the health law’s medical device tax, health insurance tax, and tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health plans in the past with bipartisan support. (The Hill)