Today’s NewsStand – August 26, 2019

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

Iowa News

Reimbursement top issue for rural health care
Every seat was full at the Rural Health Care Roundtable hosted by Rep. Wes Breckenridge, D-Newton and Rep. Timi Brown-Powers, D-Waterloo Thursday at MercyOne Newton. Representatives from the sheriff’s department, fire department, public health, local clinics and hospitals, senior healthcare facilities and many more offered feedback to legislators on obstacles in rural health care and where they feel the state house should focus efforts in the upcoming session. MercyOne Newton CEO Laurie Conner said several issues frequently plague the hospital including reimbursement numbers, behavior health issues and staffing. (Newton Daily News)

Ex-Iowa official: Resignation tied to governor staffer pay
A former Iowa state official, whose affinity for lauding rapper Tupac Shakur to colleagues drew attention after he was unexpectedly asked to resign, said Wednesday he was asked to leave after he had objected to the governor’s request that he continue paying the salary of a woman moving from his department to the governor’s office. Jerry Foxhoven confirmed to The Associated Press that he declined to approve paying the salary of Elizabeth Matney, who left DHS on May 17 to accept a job as Gov. Kim Reynolds’ adviser on health policy. (Associated Press/Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

New hotline now available for stressed-out farmers
Massive amounts of spring rain caused widespread flooding throughout the Midwest. One group is looking to ease that emotional burden on the agricultural community. Avera Behavioral Health has established the Farm and Rural Stress Hotline. It’s staffed with mental health professionals who can talk with farmers and ranchers who may be struggling mentally or financially. The number for the hotline is 1-800-691-4336. It is free, confidential and available 24/7. (We Are Iowa)

 National News

Department of Health and Human Services proposes overhaul of privacy rules for addiction treatment
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced much-anticipated proposed changes to privacy restrictions on patients’ substance use treatment records. HHS is proposing revisions to federal regulations governing the confidentiality of patient records created by federally assisted substance use disorder treatment programs to support better care coordination and reduce provider burden while maintaining privacy safeguards for patients. The proposed changes will make it easier for people struggling with substance use disorders to discuss these issues with their doctors and receive treatment while still ensuring patients’ privacy. (Fierce Healthcare)

Why red Wyoming seeks the regulatory approach to air ambulance costs
Wyoming, the reddest of Republican states and a bastion of free enterprise, thinks it may have found a way to end crippling air ambulance bills that can top $100,000 per flight. The state’s unexpected solution? Undercut the free market by using Medicaid to treat air ambulances like a public utility. The issue has come to a head in Wyoming, where rugged terrain and long distances between hospitals forces reliance on these ambulance flights. Costs for such emergency transports have been soaring, with some patients facing massive unexpected bills as the free-flying air ambulance industry expands with cash from profit-seeking private-equity investors. (Kaiser Health News)

Coming out about mental health on social media
While struggles with mental health were traditionally kept private, in recent years a growing number of sufferers are adopting the opposite tack: sharing their mental health battles with the world, via social media. Celebrities and public figures like actors Dwayne Johnson and Gina Rodriguez and singer Ariana Grande have used social media as a platform to share stories about their mental health and encourage others. It is also common for organizations to use social media as a platform to share information, tips and strategies. (Kaiser Health News)