Today’s NewsStand – March 13, 2019

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

Iowa News

Iowa youth survey shows drinking down, vaping up
Alcohol use and binge drinking may be down among Iowa teens, but they’ve found a new vice in e-cigarettes and vaping. The 2018 Iowa Department of Public Health’s Youth Survey showed alcohol and tobacco use decreasing while e-cigarette use and suicide risk increased. In particular, 23 percent of 11th-grade students who responded reported using e-cigarettes one day or more. Eight percent of eighth-graders reported using e-cigarettes at least one day or more, and 2 percent of sixth-graders reported it. Overall, vaping is up 78 percent. (Quad-City Times)

UISG votes to support new mental health initiatives
The University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) passed two pieces of legislation supporting mental-health initiatives on Tuesday. UISG allocated $5,000 in funding to pay the integration fees for a new suicide-prevention program, Kognito, into Success at Iowa programming for first-year students. It also passed a resolution supporting a proposed $2 per semester increase in the student mental health fee. Both pieces of legislation passed unanimously. (University of Iowa University Daily Iowan)

Bill seeks improvements to children’s mental health
A bill to expand the state’s mental health services for children being pushed by a local legislator is moving closer to becoming law. Senate study bill 1197 and its House of Representatives counterpart have moved through the committee process in both chambers and now await amendments and, eventually, a vote of approval. The changes concentrate on the state’s 14 mental health and disability services regions. (Marshalltown Times-Republican)

National News

HHS Secretary Azar defends proposed cuts to Medicare hospital payments
Democrats are accusing President Donald Trump of going back on his campaign promise to protect Medicare after he introduced a 2020 budget that calls for steep cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals. As outlined in White House documents, the budget calls for $845 billion in total, or gross, spending reductions to Medicare over 10 years, mainly by cutting future payments to hospitals and other service providers. (PBS News Hour)

Property tax proposal piles one more worry on Texas’ rural hospital districts
Squeezed by Medicare cuts and a growing number of uninsured patients, rural hospital districts in Texas are worried that the Legislature’s property tax reform package could rock small health care providers or force them to scale back services. Some hospital executives see the legislation — which aims to slow the rate of property tax revenue growth — as potentially the latest in a series of government-inflicted blows that has left many of the state’s rural providers insolvent or with precarious balance sheets. (Texas Tribune)

Joni Ernst, Mike Lee roll out conservative paid parental leave idea
New parents would have the option to use their Social Security benefits early in exchange for delaying retirement under a bill introduced Tuesday by Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Lee of Utah. Their bill, the Child Rearing and Development Leave Empowerment, or CRADLE, Act has emerged as one of several conservative options on paid parental leave as President Trump has given the issue his blessing and as GOP senators have been encouraged by first daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump. (Washington Examiner)