Today’s NewsStand – September 16, 2019

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

Iowa News

Analyst: Proposed health care merger raises concerns about cost, patient care
The proposed merger between two major Midwestern hospital systems, Sanford Health and UnityPoint Health, is deeply troublesome for two key reasons: cost and health outcomes. For 20 years, I have researched employee benefits in Iowa, including health care costs paid by employers and their employees. Since 1999, Iowa employer premiums have skyrocketed by 240% (single) and 251% (family). (Des Moines Register)

Dubuque County explores need, readiness for syringe service program
An eastern Iowa community is exploring ways to help people struggling with substance abuse, particularly opioid use. The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors commissioned MercyOne to complete a harm reduction needs assessment. It explored the need and readiness for syringe services, also known as needle exchanges, in Dubuque County. (KCRG)

Cedar Rapids advocacy center equipping community with tools to fight teen suicide 
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and the Grace C Mae Advocacy Center is helping the community to react, by holding a teen’s mental health first aid class this week. According to Foundation 2, a local crisis prevention agency, suicide in teens has increased by almost 200% since the 1960s. However, only 17% for adults. Now, the advocacy center is trying to help the community be on the lookout for warning signs. (KWWL)

National News

AHA report: Three shifts providers must make to embrace digital health
Digital tools have the potential to make healthcare more preventive, personalized and participatory, as long as providers can evolve toward a more consumer-centric model as well. Here, according to a new report from the American Hospital Association’s Center for Health Innovation and EY, are three shifts providers will need to make as part of an ongoing digital transformation in order to achieve this vision of participatory health: a future grounded in patient engagement, with a focus on overall wellness, near-constant access to care and digital connections. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Democratic debate exposes deep divides among candidates over health care
Once again, health care took up a large chunk of a Democratic primary debate. Once again, there were fights over costs, coverage and whether the party is growing too extreme. But this time, all of the front-runners were onstage together, providing the first opportunity for all of them to take direct aim at each other and their vastly differing health care plans. It made for some heated exchanges, putting “Medicare for All” supporters on defense. But it also showed clearly that some candidates are cautious not to criticize others’ proposals too harshly. (Iowa Public Radio)

How a proposed three-digit suicide hotline could help prevention efforts
The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to launch a new three-digit hotline for people who are feeling suicidal or are going through any other mental health crisis. It recommends making 988 the new national number to call for help, replacing the current 10-digit number. The agency presented the idea to Congress in a report earlier this month and is expected to release more information and seek public comment about the proposal in the coming months. Mental health advocates are excited about the proposal. (Iowa Public Radio)