Today’s NewsStand — Dec. 10, 2019

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

Iowa News            

Graduates of Scott County mental health court look toward a productive future instead of jail
The Scott County Mental Health Court was established in July 2016, operating a jail diversion program that takes inmates with a chronic mental health illness out of jail and into an intense treatment program centered around structure, stability and support. The goal is to reduce recidivism, alleviate the overcrowding of the county jail with mental health patients, and reduce costs. Thus far, 36 individuals have been diverted from the jail. Seven have graduated, including the group today. 14 are still currently in the program. (WQAD)

Eastern Iowa Mental Health Region may need to find $4-5 million in cuts next year
During a workshop regarding the future of the mental health program in Muscatine County, the board of supervisors learned if the county remains in the Eastern Iowa Mental Health and Disabilities Region for the remainder of the fiscal year, county services are likely to be cut. Disability Services Coordinator Felicia Toppert identified two options for the county — to stay in the Eastern Iowa region for the next fiscal year, which would require the payment of a $311,000 assessment the county hadn’t budgeted for; or the county can leave the region and provide mental health services on its own by contracting with health organizations. (Quad City Times)

UnityPoint tech lab, with its own 3D printer, spurs staff innovation, engagement
St. Luke’s Nursing Supervisor Celsey Huber was looking for a solution this past week. She had noticed a problem while working with patients who needed continuous bladder irrigation, meant to prevent blood clots from forming. She wanted to create a system that would warn her and other nurses when it was time to change the drainage bag, which would often fill up quickly during the irrigation process. So Huber and an engineer created and built a sensor that would sound an alarm when the liquid reached a certain level in the bag. They tested the prototype earlier this week in a new space within UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids that’s meant to encourage this type of action. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Justices to hear Obamacare case with billions at stake
The Supreme Court today will hear oral arguments in the latest Obamacare case to reach the justices, this time in a $12 billion dispute over payments insurers say they are owed by the federal government. At issue is a financial carrot that Congress dangled before insurers to encourage their participation in the early years of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health care marketplaces. The funding program in question, known as risk corridors, sought to mitigate risk by protecting insurers against unforeseeable losses in the new markets. (The Hill)

Disparities between care in rural, urban areas getting worse
It’s common knowledge that Americans living in rural areas have poorer health outcomes than their urban counterparts. But, despite policy efforts to ameliorate disparities, the gap is not getting any better, according to several new studies published in Health Affairs. Rural residents have a 23% higher mortality rate, along with more preventable hospitalizations and ER visits. Rural outcomes are especially dire for chronic and behavioral health, with deaths related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and suicide exponentially increasing over the past few years. (Healthcare Dive)

‘Warm’ hotline delivers help before a mental health crisis heats up
In October, the San Francisco-based warmline expanded beyond Northern California to cover the whole state through a state budget allocation of $10.8 million for three years. Unlike a hotline for those in immediate crisis, warmlines provide early intervention with emotional support that can prevent a crisis — and a more costly 911 call or ER visit. The lines are typically free, confidential peer-support services staffed by volunteers or paid employees who have experienced mental health conditions themselves. (Kaiser Health News)