Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.
Feds to investigate whether Medicaid firms are unfairly denying care to disabled people
Federal investigators will look into whether private Medicaid management companies, including those covering more than 600,000 poor or disabled Iowans, are unfairly denying services. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey requested the review last week. Critics of Iowa’s Medicaid privatization point to the recent announcement that UnitedHealthcare is pulling out of the state’s Medicaid program. It is the second of the original three Medicaid companies working here to bail out. (Des Moines Register)
Sioux County Jail trains in mental health
With mental health resources and medical insurance providers in flux, jailers are being forced to fill multiple roles. To improve the way officers handle inmates with any array of mental health diagnoses, Sioux County deputies received training from Creative Living Center directors. A training session took place on March 20 and was titled, “Law Enforcement, Incarceration and Mental Health.” Officers also are seeing more of an emphasis on mental health education in their annual state administered training. (Northwest Iowa News)
University’s AirCare enhanced with fixed-wing, long-distance plane
A Pilatus PC-12 single-engine airplane, converted for medical use, is now based inside a spotless hangar at the Iowa City Municipal Airport. This is a new enhancement for AirCare, the long-standing emergency and critical care flight service of the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. “With this plane,” said AirCare Nurse Manager Diane Lamb, “we can get critically-ill children and adults to the University even quicker, and from longer distances.” (Iowa City Press-Citizen)
GOP lawmakers set up roadblocks to voter-approved Medicaid expansion
Many residents in three deep-red states rejoiced last fall when voters approved Medicaid expansion, circumventing the objections of their elected representatives. But the victories in Utah, Idaho and Nebraska — which would have extended coverage to tens of thousands of residents in each state under the Obamacare provision – have proven short-lived. This week, Idaho’s GOP lawmakers and governor joined their peers in Utah and Nebraska in slapping work requirements and other restrictions on access to Medicaid. Idaho legislators had considered bills with less stringent measures, but ultimately rejected those. (CNN)
WHO releases recommendations on digital health interventions to improve care
The World Health Organization (WHO) released a new list of recommendations Wednesday offering guidance on how the global healthcare industry can use digital health technology accessible via mobile phones, tablets and computers to improve people’s health and essential services around the world. The list of 10 recommendations is based on a “critical evaluation of the evidence on emerging digital interventions that are contributing to health system improvements” and is the result of a two-year-long research project by WHO. (Fierce Healthcare)
How can we be sure artificial intelligence is safe for medical use?
Companies are rapidly developing software to supplement or even replace doctors for certain tasks. And the FDA, accustomed to approving drugs and clearing medical devices, is now figuring out how to make sure computer algorithms are safe and effective. Bakul Patel, associate director for digital health at the FDA, says that in general, the FDA expects more evidence and assurances for technologies that have a greater potential to cause harm if they fail. (NPR)