Today’s NewsStand – February 27, 2019

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

Iowa News

Should public assistance programs have stricter requirements?
Iowa lawmakers are considering three bills that would change eligibility requirements for public assistance programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Jack Reardon, who grew up in Des Moines in a single parent household says that there isn’t a need to increase oversight for the program, but that there is a need to expand programs like SNAP. (Iowa Public Radio)

Crisis Center of Johnson County rebrands with new name, same services
Becci Reedus felt a little sad when she took off her Crisis Center of Johnson County name tag for the last time Monday morning. The executive director’s name tag was replaced with one that says CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank. The organization, which plans to provide all the same services, announced the name change with a reveal party Monday. The reason behind the name change was to open up new funding and contracting possibilities with Iowa’s other mental health regions. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Adding suicide prevention to required class for Iowa high schoolers
Before graduating, all Iowa high schoolers have to take a “health class” that covers topics like nutrition, disease prevention and substance abuse. A bill that’s cleared a Senate committee would direct Iowa high schools to add “mental health awareness, coping skills and suicide prevention” to that list for classroom discussion. Senate President Charles Schneider, a Republican from West Des Moines, is the bill’s sponsor. The bill is now eligible for debate in the senate. A similar bill has been introduced in the Iowa House. (Radio Iowa)

Engineers develop placenta-on-a-chip to study caffeine transport from mother to fetus
Engineers have used microfluidic technology to create a “placenta-on-a-chip” that models how compounds can be passed from a mother to a fetus. “I am interested in microfluidics and I’ve been excited about using the technology to understand what happens in the cellular environment and within the body,” said Nicole Hashemi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University and the leader of this project. (Iowa State University)

National News

Illinois hospitals seek reform of Medicaid managed care system
Hospitals in Illinois are complaining that slow payments and unnecessary denial of claims from the state’s privatized Medicaid system are putting both hospitals and their patients at risk, and they are asking state lawmakers to do something about it. At issue is the state’s privatized Medicaid system known as HealthChoice Illinois, which uses private insurance companies known as managed care organizations to coordinate each patient’s care. The hospital association argues that the new system has produced only bureaucratic delays that make it more difficult for hospitals to get paid. (Effingham Daily News)

Investigation spurs sweeping bipartisan fix for Texas’ Medicaid managed care mess
Lawmakers from both parties are rolling out bills this month to overhaul the Texas Medicaid system, introducing protections for vulnerable patients who are denied treatments, increasing state oversight and signaling a crackdown on health care corporations that get richer by providing less care. Years of inept state oversight allowed those companies to refuse or take away medically needed services and force patients and families of sick and disabled children through a maze of endless appeals — sometimes with dire consequences. (Dallas Morning News)

Measles outbreaks lead states to reconsider vaccine exemptions
Measles outbreaks across the nation are prompting state lawmakers to consider eliminating vaccination exemptions for religious and personal beliefs that have been claimed by the parents of some children. Public health experts and officials blame the exemptions as one reason why states are seeing an increased number of cases of measles. But the most recent measles outbreaks, which have infected 159 mostly unvaccinated people in 10 states, is leading some states to reconsider. (The Hill)

More wearables shift from fitness to clinical use with new Samsung and AT&T smart watches
More wearables are jumping into the health and medical space with a new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active promising a feature the Apple Watch doesn’t yet have—blood pressure monitoring. Apple’s latest version of its smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 4, features a built-in electrocardiogram feature and fall detection. Samsung’s newest smartwatch for the consumer market features exercise, sleep, stress and health tracking features as well as an upcoming blood pressure tracking feature. (Fierce Healthcare)