Today’s NewsStand — Nov. 13, 2019

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

Iowa News

UnityPoint Health, Sanford merger abruptly called off
UnityPoint Health, one of Iowa’s main hospital and clinic systems, and South Dakota-based Sanford Health have halted plans to merge, officials with both organizations said Tuesday. The merger would have created one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, with more than $11 billion in operating revenue, 83,000 staff and 2,600 physicians in 26 states and nine countries. Sanford CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft said in a statement that UnityPoint Health officials “failed to embrace the vision.” (Des Moines Register)

Safety violations found after attacks at Independence Mental Health Institute
Regulators have recommended a nearly $73,000 fine against the Iowa Department of Human Services after finding serious workplace safety violations at a state-run psychiatric hospital where several employees have been assaulted by combative patients. Staffers at the Independence Mental Health Institute struggle to manage violent outbursts due to inadequate emergency response plans, low staffing levels, poor communication and ineffective safety shields that they’re not trained to use, according to an inspection. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

After a year without, out-of-state company brings health care navigator services to Iowa
After Iowa went a year without federally backed health insurance navigators, a West Virginia-based organization has launched a program in the state to help Iowans sign up for federal health insurance plans. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded $100,000 per year to First Choice Services to launch Iowa Navigator. Iowa Navigator was officially launched ahead of this year’s open enrollment, which started on Nov. 1 and will end Dec. 15. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Verma attacks critics of Medicaid work requirement, pushes for tighter eligibility
Seema Verma, the Trump administration’s top Medicaid official, Tuesday sharply attacked critics of her plan to force some Medicaid enrollees to work, a policy that led to thousands of people losing coverage in Arkansas. A federal judge shut down the short-lived work requirement initiative in Arkansas and stopped it from launching in Kentucky last spring. Several states, including Indiana, Arizona and New Hampshire, that had won federal approval have put their implementation plans on hold pending an appellate court ruling. (Kaiser Health News)

Medicaid tweak might offer means to improve US maternal health
The U.S. is one of only three countries where maternal deaths are on the rise, joining Sudan and Afghanistan, according to the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, a program of the Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Health. Though maternal and child health experts appreciate the attention to the issue, they also point to what they say is a fairly minor policy option that could make a major difference: increasing access to Medicaid for postpartum women. (Kaiser Health News)

One in five US adults report trouble affording prescription drugs
About 1 in 5 U.S. adults say that they or someone in their household has been unable to afford drugs that were prescribed to them in the past 12 months, according to a new Gallup poll. The survey found that 22.9 percent of U.S. adults said there had been a time in the past year when their household was unable to pay for drugs they were prescribed, up from 18.9 percent in January. The poll illustrates the struggles many Americans have paying for medication at a time when lowering drug prices is an intense subject of debate in Washington. (The Hill)