Today’s NewsStand – February 12, 2019

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

Iowa News

New Medicaid provider moving into one of Iowa’s priciest new office developments
Iowa’s newest Medicaid company will move into one of the priciest commercial office spaces in the Des Moines metro area — a move critics worry will siphon the financial resources needed for the care of the state’s disabled and poor. “It’s disappointing because there are so many other rental properties at far less costs,” said Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque.  Iowa Total Care will officially join UnitedHealthcare and Amerigroup to help manage the state’s $5 billion annual Medicaid program in July. (Des Moines Register)

‘Our cap does not work’: Mental health region asks county supervisors for support
The Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disabilities Service Region needs the support of Muscatine County Board of Supervisors to tell the state its requirements for the region aren’t working. Now the legislature may this week consider changing the fund balance spending requirement for the region from 20-25 percent to 30 percent, and give the region five years to spend the fund balance beyond the 30 percent, rather than three years. (Muscatine Journal)

Amid a youth suicide crisis, Iowans develop creative mental health resources 
Children in Iowa are dying. Youth suicide is more prevalent in Iowa than the nation as a whole and according to the Iowa-based Coalition for a Children’s Mental Health Redesign, there are 64,000 children in Iowa with substantial functional impairment caused by mental illness who do not receive any mental health services. Here are four examples of how schools and communities, in spite of limited resources, are joining forces in order to creatively and effectively support children who may suffer from a wide array of mental health concerns. (Salon)

Hospice volunteer donates more than 4,000 hours to Iowa hospital
A former special education teacher is among those who have been nominated for a ‘9 Who Care Award’ and spends a lot of time at the hospice floor at St. Luke’s hospital in Cedar Rapids. Hospice volunteer Todd Betzer uses words, sometimes an embrace, but he always finds a way to make a connection with a troubled soul. Betzer’s approach is difficult to replicate, however, the spiritual gifts he has given countless families during the more than 4,000 hours he has donated to the hospital over the last 5 years are easily understood. (KCRG)

National News

Alabama to lose another rural hospital
One of the two hospitals serving the Butler County community will close its doors in just over a month, the latest hospital to shutter its doors in rural Alabama. Ivy Creek of Butler, owners of Georgiana Medical Center, confirmed Monday it will close the facility on March 31. According to the Alabama Hospital Association, not including Georgiana Medical Center, six rural hospitals and six urban hospitals have closed in Alabama since 2011. (WSFA)

Medicare, Medicaid contain costs better than private insurers, study says
Calls for funding cuts to popular entitlement programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, have been fueled by the growing U.S. deficit and the fear that the Medicare trust fund will soon run out. Some Republican lawmakers insist that trimming those programs is the only way to rein in federal spending. But Urban Institute researchers released a study Monday showing that Medicare and Medicaid have done a better job at controlling spending than private payers have. They concluded that lawmakers should shift their focus toward containing costs in the private insurance market. (Modern Healthcare)

Utah plan to cut Medicaid expansion by 50,000 nears passage
A plan to scale back a voter-approved Medicaid expansion in Utah won a key approval in the state Legislature on Friday despite protests that it reduces access to needed health care and thwarts voters’ wishes. The measure would insure about 50,000 fewer people under Medicaid, a change that would need a federal approval that has not been given for any other state. Republican lawmakers argue that and other restrictions are essential to controlling long-term costs, but say their plan will still cover the state’s neediest. (Associated Press)

Combating the opioid crisis one doctor at a time
The opioid crisis and a series of high-profile lawsuits against drugmakers, including Purdue Pharma and Insys, have put a national spotlight on aggressive pharmaceutical marketing campaigns to persuade doctors to prescribe their drugs, sometimes with scant attention to safety issues. Sandeep “Sonny” Bains, a pharmacist, is part of a fledgling movement co-opting the drug industry’s tactics to deliver a different message to doctors — that narcotics are not only addictive but also often no better at managing pain than safer, over-the-counter medicines. (Washington Post)