Today’s NewsStand — Jan. 29, 2020

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

Iowa News       

Iowa lawmakers question officials about Medicaid performance, funding issues
Iowa lawmakers questioned Medicaid officials Tuesday about the finances and performance of the state’s health insurance system for low-income and disabled Iowans. Medicaid issues have been controversial at the Iowa Capitol since the state hired private insurance companies in 2016 to manage the government-funded system. Lawmakers will once again have to put millions more into the state’s Medicaid program in the current fiscal year, because the amount budgeted last year was not nearly enough to cover Medicaid costs. (Iowa Public Radio)

Iowa lawmakers hear objections to increasing public assistance eligibility verification
Similar proposals to change eligibility rules for public assistance fared differently Tuesday in the Iowa House and Senate, but in both cases the legislation remains under consideration. A House Human Resources subcommittee delayed taking action on House File 2030 until it hears a presentation from the departments of Human Services and Inspections and Appeals on their efforts to verify the eligibility of participants in state public assistance programs. Iowa Medicaid Director Michael Randol told the subcommittee that it would take 250 to 280 new employees to handle the new verification processes. (Southern Minnesota.com)

University of Iowa building rehab hospital in Coralville in partnership with Encompass Health
University of Iowa Health Care — through one of its subsidiaries — is partnering with a national health care enterprise to build a new 40-bed rehabilitation inpatient hospital in Coralville, currently under construction with plans to open in June. The $27 million venture — which will be called University of Iowa Health Network Rehabilitation Hospital — is being built on the southwest corner of Oakdale Boulevard and Coral Court in Coralville, according to UIHC Marketing and Communications. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

As coronavirus cases rise, US agencies map out domestic containment plans
China has reported a large surge of cases of the novel coronavirus — upping its count from under 3,000 to over 4,500 as of Tuesday morning. More than 100 deaths have been reported. It is spreading rapidly in many provinces, and sporadic cases have now been reported in 18 other locations outside of China, including Australia, France and Canada. In the United States, the case count remains at five — all people who had recently returned from Wuhan, China. And at a news conference Tuesday, top U.S. health officials reiterated that the disease — while serious — is not currently a threat to ordinary Americans. (NPR)

Patient use of digital tools, 3rd-party apps to access health records rises in 2019
More U.S. patients are using online portals to access their medical information, according to an analysis the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT presented at its annual conference Monday. More patients gave third-party apps access to their health data in 2019, too, re-upping privacy concerns as industry waits for HHS to finalize rules setting standards around interoperability. (Healthcare Dive)

CMS will consolidate its eight consumer-facing tools
The CMS announced Thursday that the eight online tools designed for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers to make healthcare choices will be combined later this year. The agency said the changes will allow users to have a “streamlined experience” on Medicare.gov. Right now, patients and families must use different interfaces on the Medicare website based on the care setting they are interested in. The CMS has the option, called Compare tools, for hospitals, nursing homes, home health, dialysis centers, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation, physicians and hospice groups. (Modern Healthcare)