Today’s NewsStand – January 17, 2019

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

Iowa News

Carroll hospital determined to continue serving mentally ill, bucking tide of closures
St. Anthony Regional Hospital’s leaders couldn’t bring themselves to do what eight other rural Iowa hospitals have done in recent years: Shutter their psychiatric unit. The Carroll hospital’s board nearly pulled the plug several years ago. The inpatient mental-health program was losing money, and it struggled to keep psychiatrists and other professionals on staff. But St. Anthony’s is the only hospital in Carroll County or the seven surrounding counties that offers inpatient care to people having mental health crises. (Des Moines Register)

Virginia Gay Hospital joins UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids as an Affiliate
UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids is pleased to welcome Virgina Gay Hospital in Vinton as an affiliate. After many months of careful evaluation, the Virginia Gay Hospital Board and senior staff, elected to end its affiliation with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and selected UnityPoint Health – Cedar Rapids as its new affiliation partner. Critical Access Hospitals like Virginia Gay are required to maintain an affiliation with a larger health system that can provide enhanced access to expertise and medical specialists. (UnityPoint Health)

Genesis, WesleyLife to collaborate on new senior living community
Genesis Health System will partner with Johnston-based senior care WesleyLife to form a new organization to focus on providing care to older adults in the community. The collaboration, announced Wednesday, will include building a new senior living care community in the Bettendorf area. While a site for the campus has not yet been selected, there are “several sites” where the organization has strong interest. (Quad-City Times)

National News

Minnesota hospitals see spike in unpaid bills
Unpaid hospital debt in Minnesota surged 25 percent in 2017, another sign that even patients with health insurance are struggling to pay high deductibles and co-payments for medical care. The increase is the biggest jump since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect in 2013, according to a report released Wednesday by the Minnesota Hospital Association. Hospitals recorded a 9 percent increase in a second category — charity care, which is free or discounted care provided to uninsured or low-income patients. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Medicaid block grant waiver reports revive hospitals’ funding worries
Hospitals are furious that the Trump administration is reportedly exploring allowing states to convert their Medicaid programs into block grants, a policy the industry fervently fought when Congress tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If states take advantage of the block-grant flexibility, first reported in Politico, it would cap federal spending for Medicaid in those states and could leave them on the hook for any expenditures over that limit. (Modern Healthcare)

Physician burnout now essentially a public health crisis
Physician burnout has reached alarming levels and now amounts to a public health crisis that threatens to undermine the doctor-patient relationship and the delivery of health care nationwide, according to a report from Massachusetts doctors to be released Thursday. The report — from the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health — portrays a profession struggling with the unyielding demands of electronic health record systems and ever-growing regulatory burdens. (Boston Globe)