Today’s NewsStand – January 3, 2019

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

Iowa News

New law means hospitals must post prices online
Hospitals are now required to post prices for their services online. It’s part of a new federal rule. Patients will now be able to compare prices before seeking treatment. Hospitals are expected to post their price lists online by today. The idea is people can price-compare on common procedures. But in Iowa, that price comparison tool has been around for years, just not everyone knows about it. It can all be found over at the Iowa Hospital Association’s website. There you can actually price compare how much a treatment will cost at one hospital versus another. (KCCI)

Questions remain on Iowa mental health access centers
Officials in Eastern Iowa counties are not waiting for direction from the state to establish access centers for individuals in need of crisis intervention — a need they say is growing in urgency as mental health treatment becomes more complex and more closely tied to substance-use disorders. But as planning moves into the new year, officials in Linn and Johnson counties say they still need further clarity from state lawmakers, particularly when it comes to funding for services within the access centers. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

CHI Health lets patients buy vouchers for discounted medical procedures
CHI Health has signed with an online marketplace called MDsave that operates much the same way for health care. The service allows patients to buy vouchers for medical procedures online like people do for flights and lodging. Lab tests and imaging make up the initial list of procedures available. The health system also has added physical, speech and occupational therapy and plans to roll out additional services in the future. Bundles for bariatric surgery and maternity care, among others, should be available within the coming months. (Omaha World-Herald)

Burgess Health Center receives Employer Award from County Partnership
Burgess Health Center was named 2018 Employer of the Year as part of Monona County Economic Development Partnership’s (MCEDP) business recognition program. Burgess was nominated by community leaders and chosen as the award recipient by the Board of Directors for MCEDP. Burgess has been providing health care to the Monona County area since 1963 and employs a diverse group of professionals. (Mapleton Press)

Hospital recognized for assisting nursing student
The University of Dubuque (UD) recognized UnityPoint Health – Jones Regional Medical Center (JRMC) with an award for its support of the UD Physician Assistant (PA) Program. Natalie Weber, director of the program, presented a pair of awards to JRMC in a ceremony at the hospital, one to the hospital at large and one to Linda Oberbroeckling, the nurse practitioner for palliative medicine. Oberbroeckling worked with four of the students and said they came to the hospital already well trained. (Jones County Journal-Eureka)

National News

Coverage denied: Medicaid patients suffer as layers of private companies profit
Nearly three-quarters of the 73 million low-income Americans on Medicaid are now in managed care. Keeping patients as healthy as possible is one way to make money. Another is to deny or skimp on services. Increasingly, Medicaid plans outsource the work of managing patients’ health and medical treatment to subcontractors – passing along a share of the government money coupled with the financial risk posed by a fixed budget. These firms can be powerful gatekeepers. (Kaiser Health News)

House to vote next week on intervening to defend Obamacare in court
The House will hold a vote next week on intervening to defend Obamacare in court against a GOP-led lawsuit, which Democrats hope will be a tough vote for many Republicans. A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the vote on having the House formally intervene in court to defend Obamacare will come next week. Democrats say if GOP lawmakers vote against defending Obamacare, they will be showing that they don’t actually support protections for people with pre-existing conditions contained in the health law. (The Hill)

To get mental health help for a child, desperate parents relinquish custody
When Toni and Jim Hoy adopted their son Daniel through the foster care system, he was an affectionate toddler. But as Daniel grew older, he began to show signs of serious mental illness that eventually manifested in violent outbursts and nearly a dozen psychiatric hospitalizations. Doctors said he needed intensive institutional services that cost at least $100,000 a year. The family had private insurance and Daniel also had Medicaid coverage because he was adopted. But neither insurance would pay for that treatment. The Hoys decided to relinquish custody to the state. (Iowa Public Radio)

Six ways telehealth made progress in 2018
2018 may have marked a turning point in the way telehealth services are utilized and perceived. With significant progress in consumer acceptance, reimbursement, and legislation, many health systems report that telehealth has moved from a “nice to have” service to an essential component of the way healthcare is delivered. HealthLeaders Media outlined six ways readers think the practice of telehealth made progress in 2018. (HealthLeaders Media)