Today’s NewsStand — Nov. 22, 2019

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

Iowa News            

Iowa budget healthy but concerns on the horizon
Iowa’s auditor says the state budget is in good shape with surpluses but that beneficial federal tax policies will end in a few years, potentially causing problems. In his annual review of the state budget, Auditor Rob Sand said Thursday that federal tax changes made in 2017 gave Iowa’s budget a $188 million windfall for the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30. He says the state is not following best budget practices by underfunding its portion of Medicaid costs. For the last several years lawmakers have had to provide additional money to fill the void. (WGEM/Associated Press)

US Supreme Court rejects rural Iowa hospital’s challenge over Medicare payments
The U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear a case Nov. 18 that challenged the calculation method for Medicare payments to rural hospitals. Unity HealthCare, a rural, nonprofit acute care hospital in Muscatine, Iowa, brought the case against HHS. Unity HealthCare’s parent corporation is Trinity Regional Health System, a subsidiary of West Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint Health. The Iowa hospital contends that HHS did not properly interpret the volume decrease adjustment for its facility and as a result Unity HealthCare did not receive all the reimbursement it is owed, according to court documents. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Black Hawk County calls on state to address mental health crisis
Black Hawk County leaders are urging the state to improve mental health services and hope other local governments will follow suit. Members of the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a resolution calling for Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature to address what they see as a failing mental health care system. Supervisor Dan Trelka, who is retiring soon as Waterloo’s police chief, proposed the resolution and also asked the Waterloo City Council on Monday to approve it. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

National News

Democrats press Trump officials over drop in Obamacare signups amid website problems
Congressional Democrats are pressing the Trump administration for answers on ObamaCare sign-ups, pointing to a dip in enrollment due to technical problems with the healthcare.gov website. The lawmakers pointed to an analysis from the group Get America Covered, run by former Obama administration health officials, which found that as many as 100,000 fewer people signed up on the first day of ObamaCare enrollment this year due to technical problems with healthcare.gov. (The Hill)

The case of the ACA’s disappearing taxes
Many of the Affordable Care Act’s “pay-fors,” particularly the taxes, “have been eliminated, delayed or are in jeopardy,” said Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan budget watchdog group. “All this stuff, it turns out, is very unpopular,” he said. Still, the two ACA taxes that generate the most revenue are on the books and collecting money. They are aimed at people with high incomes (more than $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples) and were estimated to bring in more than $200 billion from 2010 to 2019. (Kaiser Health News)

In Missouri, people who can’t speak and see wait in line for help
Missouri lawmakers cut the budget for new Medicaid waivers from $31.4 million to $8.5 million, including both state and federal funds. That $8.5 million is enough to fund about 440 waivers this fiscal year — or roughly five new clients a month who need residential care and 30 new clients a month who need less costly, specialized support services. That’s still far fewer than the 1,300 who the state estimated will need the services. Advocates say the waitlist is not a mere inconvenience, but that it puts people already in crisis at risk and threatens the stability of families in less extreme situations. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)