Today’s NewsStand – May 9, 2019

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

Iowa News

Medicaid director meets with Iowans about MCO exit. ‘You can’t calm our fears,’ one says.
Iowa’s Medicaid director sought to reassure Iowans Wednesday that UnitedHealthcare’s exit from the giant health-care program would not cause major disruptions. “The first thing I want to emphasize is no one is losing benefits,” Mike Randol told more than 50 Medicaid members in the first of six town hall meetings he’s scheduled around the state. Several audience members, including parents of disabled Iowans, told Randol they’re worried about the shift. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa DHS administrator says MCOs were demanding too much
With UnitedHealthcare set to leave the Iowa Managed Care Organization market, those in the Medicaid system are looking for answers. Gov. Reynolds (R) said she ended negotiations with the company because she believed terms in the state’s contract with UnitedHealthcare were “unreasonable and unsustainable”. Through a series of town halls, the Iowa Department of Human Services is hoping to assure Iowans in need that their medical needs will be taken care of. The newest provider coming to Iowa, Iowa Total Care, has signed a five-year contract with the state. (We Are Iowa)

Counties decline to fund state mental health mandate
At least two counties are generating some pushing back against the children’s mental health bill Iowa signed at the beginning of the month. The bill did not provide funding for the new services. Dickinson County Supervisor Chairman Bill Leupold, who also serves as chair of the Northwest Iowa Care Connections mental health region, said the region has set aside $36,000 in its budget for children’s mental health care. Even with those regional funds, the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to leave the current mental health levy rate at $15 per capita. (Dickinson County News)

National News

340B drug program payment cut struck down again
A judge has again ruled against HHS cuts to reimbursements under the 340B Drug Discount Program and remanded the rate adjustment rules back to the agency. He did not, however, order hospitals be compensated for lost 340B payments. The plaintiffs, the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals and the American Association of Medical Colleges, celebrated the ruling in a joint statement: “We urge HHS to promptly comply with the judge’s ruling and restore to 340B hospitals all funds that have been unlawfully withheld.” (Healthcare Dive)

Trump considers poverty-gauge change that could trim rolls on aid programs
The Trump administration is weighing changes to a federal poverty measure that could reduce eligibility for a number of federal safety-net programs. The administration is seeking public input on a proposed change to an index used to gauge inflation for a U.S. poverty measure, according to a notice Monday in the Federal Register. The measure is used to determine financial eligibility for federal programs such as the school lunch program and Head Start, and the size of premium tax credits on the Affordable Care Act. (Wall Street Journal)

Drug prices as much as 4 times higher in US than other countries, study finds
Drug prices were 3.2 to 4.1 times higher in the U.S. on average than in comparison countries, even after rebates were considered, according to a new study. Using reference pricing, or prices based on what other countries pay for drugs, the authors found that the price differential for individual drugs varied from 1.3 to 70.1 between the U.S. and other countries. (Fierce Healthcare)