Today’s NewsStand – January 8, 2019

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

Iowa News

Iowa able-bodied Medicaid recipients may have work requirement
The Iowa Legislature convenes next Monday, and Republicans say they may pursue a policy to require most “able-bodied” Iowa adults enrolled in Medicaid to work. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake says it could help ease the worker shortage in Iowa. The Trump Administration has given states the go-ahead to impose a work requirement for Medicaid recipients. Seven states have adopted the policy and eight other states have submitted requests for federal approval of the move. (KSCJ)

Hy-Vee announces new restrictions on opioid prescriptions
Hy-Vee no longer will allow its pharmacies to refill prescriptions of certain controlled substances more than 72 hours early without a doctor’s authorization. The policy, effective as of January 1, pertains to refills for Schedule III and Schedule IV drugs or subsequent fills of a Schedule II prescription. The policy was implemented in Iowa as well as seven other states where Hy-Vee operates pharmacies — Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Worst is yet to come as flu season ramps up in Iowa
Iowa health officials say flu activity is expected to get worse after an eastern Iowa man died of flu-related complications. Dr. Caitlin Pedati, medical director at the Iowa Department of Public Health, said that after 10 weeks of low influenza activity in Iowa, there has been an increase in activity in the past three weeks throughout the state. The increase in activity is similar to the timing last year, which turned out to be the worst flu season in decades. (KCCI)

Meet Covenant Medical Center’s therapy dogs
A hospital is a place with many helping hands. Covenant Medical Center has added some healing paws to the mix. Two therapy dogs make the rounds daily on Covenant properties. Rose, a yellow Labrador retriever, greets physical therapy patients at Covenant’s Outpatient Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in the Kimball Ridge Building. Ammo, a black Labrador retriever, helps children at the Early Developmental Intervention center at the hospital. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

National News

How helping patients get good care at home helps rural hospital survive
Rural hospitals close when they don’t have enough paying patients to care for, but they’re also dinged when the same patients show up over and over again. That puts outlying medical facilities in the precarious position of needing to avoid repeat customers. But rural hospitals, which already treat fewer patients than urban hospitals, wonder if they’ll have enough patients to survive, said Michael Topchik of the Chartis Center for Rural Health. (Kaiser Health News)

Uncompensated care costs flat in 2017 despite uptick in uninsured
U.S. hospitals provided $38.4 billion worth of uncompensated care in 2017, the American Hospital Association (AHA) found in a survey out this week. Uncompensated care remained flat compared with the prior year, despite signs of an uptick in the rate of uninsured after years of decline. As providers prepare for a challenging year ahead with expectations of low volume and more bad debt, AHA’s annual report captures the latest landscape of the industry. (Healthcare Dive)

DOJ asks for extension in Obamacare lawsuit due to shutdown
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking a federal judge to pause all briefings related to a motion filed by House Democrats in an ongoing Obamacare lawsuit, saying they cannot complete their work properly due to the government shutdown. Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said DOJ lawyers “are unable to prepare their opposition at this time due to the lapse in appropriations.” The motion was filed on Friday but appeared in the docket on Monday. (The Hill)

California governor takes step to provide health care coverage to undocumented young adults
Newly sworn-in California Gov. Gavin Newsom took a step on Monday to provide health care coverage to eligible undocumented young adults in the state. Amid a partial federal government shutdown, Newsom proposed a budget on his first day in office that would make California the only state in the nation to provide coverage to undocumented young adults through a state Medicaid program. (CNN)