Today’s NewsStand – May 22, 2019

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

Iowa News

Mixed reaction over potential changes to Iowa’s medical cannabis law
A bill that would expand Iowa’s medical cannabis program got high bipartisan marks from Iowa lawmakers this year, but it now faces mixed reaction as the bill awaits Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision on whether to sign it into law. The legislation expands who can certify sick Iowans for medical cannabis cards to include nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, a move supporters say will increase access to Iowans especially in rural parts of the state. (KPTM)

Man accused of Medicare fraud scheme in Nebraska, Iowa
Authorities say an Omaha man defrauded Medicare and Medicaid in a scheme involving recipients in Nebraska, Iowa and other states. A U.S. District Court complaint filed earlier this month says Nereus Sutko committed health care fraud that began in November 2010 and continued into this month. Sutko’s attorney, Adam Sipple, said Monday that Sutko will plead not guilty. Sipple declined to comment further about the allegations. Sutko is alleged to have filed 1,666 Medicare claims through the company he managed, Better Lives, getting more than $674,000. (Nebraska TV)

Marshall County Jail sees high rate of mental illness among inmates
Of all Marshall County Jail inmates, 42 percent are being treated for some form of mental illness. With more mental health patients than beds in Iowa’s mental health institutes, a large number end up in the criminal justice system rather than in a health care facility. While the sheriff’s office has brought in several programs, trainings and help from Center Associates to treat inmates and continue treatment after their release, it often isn’t enough. A new state policy passed into law last year will see dedicated mental health care centers established throughout the state. (Marshalltown Times Republican)

National News

The other reasons kids aren’t getting vaccinations: Poverty and health care access
During this recent measles outbreak, there’s been a lot of discussion about the religious and ideological reasons behind low vaccination rates. But sometimes the reasons why a kid is not up-to-date on their vaccines has more to do with poverty and access to health care than a parent’s vaccine hesitancy. Data from the CDC shows the connection between poverty and vaccination rates bears out nationally. (NPR)

Lawmakers sprinting to address surprise medical bills
Congress and the White House are actively seeking solutions to protect patients from surprise medical bills, with some legislative proposals looking to set provider payment rates for out-of-network care. Surprise medical bills are charges that patients did not expect or did not expect to be so high. These surprise bills usually occur when insured individuals receive care from out-of-network providers even when they go to an in-network hospital. As patient financial responsibility continues to rise, lawmakers are moving quickly to create legislation that will shield patients from receiving surprise medical bills. (RevCycle Management)

Experts identify key ways to strengthen antibiotic stewardship programs
A new article in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety outlines steps that hospitals can take to improve and better evaluate their antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs), including two innovative interventions that go beyond the scope of typical programs. The American Hospital Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Quality Forum also took part in the process meant to encourage continuous improvement of hospital accreditation standards and best practices. (PEW Trusts)