Today’s NewsStand — Jan. 30, 2020

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

Iowa News       

Medicaid management CEO promises state they will do better
The CEO of a Medicaid management company the state of Iowa is penalizing for payment issues says he is “committed to doing better.” The state announced earlier this month that it’s withholding $44 million from Iowa Total Care because it didn’t pay thousands of claims from health care providers.  Iowa Total Care CEO Mitch Wasden told lawmakers Tuesday the company discovered the problem in October, just three months after it started up in the state. And he acknowledges that it’s been difficult for health care providers. (Radio Iowa)

Governor Reynolds on future of medical marijuana in Iowa
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds stopped in Davenport this evening to address the current landscape of mental health in the state. She spoke at Vera French Community Mental Health Center and discussed the impacts that her mental health initiatives have had. Medical marijuana can be used to treat disorders like PTSD, anxiety and autism, however, current Iowa cannibidol legislation only covers certain types of autism. With an increased focus on mental health issues, we asked Governor Reynolds what it would take for an expansion of current medical marijuana law this year. (Our Quad Cities)

MercyOne registered nurses approve new contract
Voting is complete and union nurses at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center have agreed to a new contract with the hospital, this according to United Food and Commercial Workers Local 222. The votes were tallied Wednesday on a tentative deal to prevent a strike by union nurses at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center The voting by bargaining unit nurses began on Monday and finished Wednesday afternoon. The agreement now goes back to MercyOne for hospital officials to decide on whether or not to sign and approve it. (KTIV)

National News

US elections 2020: Understanding what’s at stake for health care
Health care has been a leading issue in the presidential campaign over the past year, as Democratic candidates have clashed with each other, and especially with President Trump. But voters, who tell pollsters that health is among their top concerns, also complain that the health debate has been confusing and hard to follow. With voting about to begin in many states, here’s a guide to some key health care terms, issues and policy differences at play. (Iowa Public Radio)

CMS updates Hospital Compare star ratings ahead of methodology changes
The CMS on Wednesday refreshed the overall hospital quality star ratings on Hospital Compare using the current methodology as it works to potentially change the program. The star ratings update was expected. The agency announced in August that it would refresh the ratings while planning to release proposed methodology changes through a public rulemaking this spring. Hospitals still oppose the decision and have urged the CMS to remove the ratings from Hospital Compare altogether until changes are made. (Modern Healthcare)

Life expectancy rose slightly in 2018, as drug overdose deaths fell
For the first time since 2014, death rates in the U.S. declined and life expectancy showed a modest uptick, according to new data released in two reports Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Life expectancy at birth in 2018 was 78.7 years, 0.1 year longer than the previous year. It may seem like a small increase, but for a population of around 350 million, the shift represents improvements in the lives of many people, says the CDC’s Bob Anderson, the chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, who oversaw the new reports. (Iowa Public Radio)