Today’s NewsStand – July 18, 2019

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

Iowa News

How ‘access centers’ plan to take on Iowa’s mental health crisis
State legislators passed a bill last year that aims to fill a statewide need for short-term crisis care services with the creation of six regional “access” centers. The bill does not say where in Iowa the six centers should be built — only that each one has to provide detox, crisis observation and crisis stabilization services. Some counties, such as Linn and Johnson, also have added sobering units to their projects. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

UnityPoint Health sees need for interpreters at all-time high in Des Moines
As the Des Moines metro continues to grow, so does its diversity. UnityPoint Health in Des Moines says its need for interpreters is at an all-time high. It doesn’t matter what part of the hospital, or when, UnityPoint Health’s interpreters are always being put to work. Des Moines’ need for medical interpreters is growing exponentially. In 2016, UnityPoint Health averaged 280 Spanish speaking requests per month. Today, that number is more than 500. (WHO)

Iowa, other states diverge on transgender health care
States are diverging on whether to provide gender reassignment services, such as hormone treatments and surgery, under their Medicaid programs. Iowa recently enacted a law denying coverage for transition services, and Medicaid policies in eight states exclude sexual reassignment treatment, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit based in Colorado. Twelve states also specifically exclude transition-related services from health benefits for state employees. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Providers notch wins in House surprise billing legislation
Hospitals and doctors on Wednesday scored a slew of amendments that could boost their pay even within the benchmark cap proposed in the House Energy and Commerce Committee legislation to ban surprise medical bills. These amendments, a testimony to the provider community’s influence on Capitol Hill, include the option for doctors to appeal to an independent arbiter to collect additional money for certain out-of-network treatment, as well as a potential increase for out-of-network care at pricier facilities. (Modern Healthcare)

House votes to repeal Obamacare tax once seen as key to health law
In the heat of the legislative fight over the Affordable Care Act, Obama administration officials argued that including a steep tax on high-cost, generous health insurance plans was critical to the law because it would hold down soaring costs while helping to pay for its expanded health benefits. On Wednesday, that feature, once considered central to Obamacare, was dealt a blow by an unlikely foe: Democrats. (New York Times)

House launches rural health care task force
The House Ways and Means Committee on July 16 formed a healthcare task force for rural and underserved populations. A bipartisan panel of four representatives will hear from experts to understand the challenges associated with health care delivery in rural areas and underserved communities. It will use this information to explore policy options to address these challenges. (Becker’s Hospital Review)