Today’s NewsStand – March 11, 2019

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

Iowa News

Some of Iowa’s rural hospitals are at risk of closure, according to new analysis
Over 60 million Americans live in rural communities, and their health depends on rural hospitals, but a new analysis from a Chicago-based consulting company reveals many of those rural hospitals are at risk of closure, especially in Iowa. Nearly 18 percent of Iowa’s rural facilities are struggling financially. In the past nine years, Iowa hasn’t seen a single one of its 118 hospitals close its doors, but that all might change if things don’t improve financially for rural facilities. “Rural hospitals, rural medical care is a tough business right now for a number of reasons,” Scott McIntyre, Vice President of Communications for Iowa Hospital Association said. The Iowa Hospital Association says no single hospital is in danger of immediate closure, but there are some that are heading in that direction. “We’ve seen some hospitals that have cut back a little bit. We’ve seen some hospitals not fill positions, which is tough because these hospitals don’t have a lot of employees to start with,” McIntyre said. An analysis on rural hospital sustainability shows out of Iowa’s 95 rural hospitals, 17 of them are at a high risk of closing. (WHO TV)

Providers react to mental health bill for children
Treatment of mental health has been a big concern in Iowa for years and particularly the access to care. Legislation in Des Moines could broaden services for children. A bill proposed by governor Kim Reynolds aims to create a mental health care system for kids. “The children’s mental health system hasn’t really existed in Iowa for many many years,” said Tom Eachus, the Executive Director with the Black Hawk Grundy Mental Health Center. In  his 30 years as a provider, Eachus says there’s never been such a system. “Kids have kinda been neglected. So the legislation that Governor Reynolds has pushed has been very important in terms of providing some structure to a system that hasn’t really had a structure,” said Eachus. Kasey Peterson with the Iowa Mental Health Counselors association hopes the system would make it easier for providers, school employees, and parents to work together. (KWWL)

Senate bill aims to add mental health topics to Iowa school curriculum
An amended bill in the Iowa Senate looks to change the language of subjects taught in state health classes. If passed, Senate File 376 would have health classes add mental health, suicide prevention, and coping skills to seventh through 12th grade curriculum. Des Moines Public Schools Family and Consumer Science Teacher Joanna Winston said right now the subjects are taught in elective classes, but not every student takes them. “The more we talk about it the less stigma there is surrounding mental health. We are talking about mental health more, especially with adults, but I think we need to start at a younger age to identify these are signs, these are symptoms and some ways we can treat mental health,” Winston said. According to an Iowa Youth Survey by the Iowa Department of Public Health students having a plan to commit suicide increased by 53 percent from 2012 to 2018. Roosevelt High School Junior Docial Vleyee said adding subjects about mental health, suicide prevention and coping skills is a good idea because symptoms can begin at a young age. (WHO TV)

Healthy Bytes: UnityPoint introduces new technology
UnityPoint Health has announced the addition of a new technology at Trinity Moline to assist in the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Dense breast tissue may carry an increased risk of developing breast cancer and can also make detecting cancer through mammography more difficult. With the use of the ACUSON S2000 Automated Breast Ultrasound Scanner, recently implemented at Trinity Moline, Trinity can now perform 3D Ultrasound imaging in conjunction with handheld capabilities. The technology allows for more efficient and consistent exams, offering images that can depict the breast in its entirety and enhancing lesion evaluation. “The outstanding 3D image quality of the full breast helps visualization of abnormalities that might not appear in mammography,” Advanced Radiology, S.C. radiologist Dr. Susan Bird said in a release. “This will be a great tool for early detection in women with dense breasts as well as patients who may be at higher risk for breast cancer.” (Quad City Times)

National News

Critical condition: the crisis of rural medical care
Tonopah, Nevada, is about as isolated a place as you can find – 200 miles south of Reno, 200 miles north of Las Vegas, with one road in or out. But to those who call it home, this scenic dot on the desert landscape once had everything they needed. Emmy Merrow had no concerns about living in such a remote place: “It had a store and a gas station, and I was fine!” she laughed. Merrow has lived here for four years. She has a two-and-a-half-year-old, Aleyna, and a newborn daughter, Kinzley. They moved here when her husband got a great job offer from the sheriff’s department. But six weeks before she found out she was pregnant with Aleyna, she also found out Tonopah’s struggling hospital, its only hospital, was shutting its doors for good. “I’m frustrated, I’m mad, I cry, I’m upset about it, because we would live less than a mile away from a hospital,” she said. (CBS News)

MACPAC reviews recommendations on treatment of third-party payments in Medicaid shortfall definition
In its March 7-8 meeting, the Medicaid and CHIP Access and Payment Commission (MACPAC) revisited potential policy recommendations for addressing third-party payments in the disproportionate share hospital (DSH) definition of Medicaid shortfall [see Washington Highlights, Jan. 25]. Due to a recent court ruling, third-party payments are not included as payments in the Medicaid shortfall definition, which has impacted in-state distribution of DSH funds and the limits on DSH payments to individual hospitals. (Association of American Medical Colleges)

Nebraska hospitals concerned about law enforcement dumping patients to avoid paying the bill
It’s an interesting question of who pays the hospital bill of an uninsured suspect brought to an emergency department by law enforcement. If the person is in police custody, and someone notices the person has frostbite and needs treatment, does that agency pay for that uninsured patient, or the hospital? What if they’re dropped off, and the officer says the person isn’t in custody, but asks hospital personnel to call after they are treated and ready to be dismissed, and then arrests the patient? Does the hospital get stuck with the bill?  “I brought the bill just so we could find out, well, who really is responsible, and when does custody start and when doesn’t it start,” said Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward. (Fremont Tribune)

7 technologies set to revolutionize health care in 2019
Technology changes seemingly in the blink of an eye in today’s fast-paced world. Innovations have transformed nearly every industry from education to accounting, and the healthcare business is no exception. Doctors and other healthcare professionals have long utilized technology inpatient treatment, but today’s innovations trend more toward increasing patient access to care and empowering individuals to take more active roles in their health outcomes. Prescription monitoring technology has enabled providers to slow the opioid epidemic by preventing doctor shopping. Up and coming innovations will improve other areas of medicine from counseling to cardiac surgery. The following are some of the most prominent of these predictions for 2019. (International Policy Digest)