Today’s NewsStand – February 11, 2019

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

Iowa News

Mental health costs put pressure on Scott County’s budget
Changes in Iowa’s mental health system are improving services but putting pressure on Scott County’s budget. That was the message the Scott County Board of Supervisors heard earlier this week as Lori Elam, community services director, discussed the county’s proposed mental health budget and some new crisis services on the horizon. Scott County’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposes spending $5.39 million for mental health services — an increase of $901,890 over the current fiscal year. (Quad-City Times)

In Cedar Rapids, mental health calls get a helping hand
Every day is different for Nicole Watters, whether it’s helping a homeless man everybody else has given up on or talking to a teenager who feels suicide is her only way to stop the pain. What doesn’t change is Watters’ ultimate goal as a crisis counselor and law enforcement liaison — to keep mentally ill people out of jail. She is part of an innovative partnership between Foundation 2 and Cedar Rapids police: Officers can call her any time to help diffuse a situation with someone who has mental health issues. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Health care billing transparency a wise move
The 2019 Inpatient and Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System requirement set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services became federal law on Jan. 1, mandating disclosure of much of the costs incurred when we seek medical assistance. Is it perfect? No, of course not. As N’West Iowa hospital administrators explained, it’s difficult to compare each medical case, individual patient and path of treatment. But this does offer useful information. (Northwest Iowa News)

National News

Medicaid waivers ending retrospective eligibility shift costs to providers, patients
Over the past two years, despite strong objections from hospitals and other provider groups, CMS has granted waivers of 90-day retrospective eligibility to Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa and Kentucky. CMS is considering similar waiver requests from Ohio and other states. Critics say eliminating retrospective eligibility is one more administrative barrier the Trump administration has erected to make Medicaid and other public benefits harder to access. (Modern Healthcare)

Shrinking Medicaid rolls in Missouri and Tennessee raise flag on vetting process
Herb Kuhn, president and chief executive of the Missouri Hospital Association, said the state’s efforts to verify Medicaid eligibility could be tied to an increase in the number of people without coverage that hospitals are seeing. In 2018, Missouri Medicaid began automating its verification system for the state-federal insurance program for the poor. Missouri Medicaid had almost 906,000 people enrolled as of December, down from more than 977,000 in January 2018, according to state data. (Kaiser Health News)

North Carolina: The new frontier for health care transformation
In many ways, North Carolina highlights the potential and the challenges facing health care and public health in America. The state is home to leading health systems and health care innovators capable of delivering state-of-the-art care, and to health care providers and community organizations developing and implementing new population health innovations. At the same time, North Carolinians are also experiencing stagnant or worsening population mortality rates and substantial health disparities. (Health Affairs)

New voices at patients’ bedsides: Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple
It first it was a novelty: Hospitals began using voice assistants to allow patients to order lunch, check medication regimens, and get on-demand medical advice at home. But these devices, manufactured by Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and others, are now making deeper inroads into patient care. Hospitals are exploring new uses in intensive care units and surgical recovery rooms, and contemplating a future in which Alexa, or another voice avatar, becomes a virtual member of the medical team. (STAT)