Today’s NewsStand — Feb. 12, 2020

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

Iowa News       

High-dollar jury awards hurt Iowans’ access to health care
Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion in the media about Iowa’s struggling hospitals, particularly in rural areas. Too often, closing maternity wards is the cost these facilities pay to stay open and keep serving their communities. Delivering babies is expensive, Medicaid reimbursement rates are low, and our dwindling rural populations are getting older. But now there’s a new force straining Iowa’s rural hospitals and putting access to maternity care at risk. Over the past few years, some trial lawyers have been demanding massive payouts on medical malpractice lawsuits. (Des Moines Register)

University of Iowa hospital works to improve discharges
Although the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has an institutional goal of discharging inpatients by 11 a.m., the average discharge time actually is three hours later at 2:06 p.m, according to an internal audit. In response to the audit, UIHC management is considering a range of discharge-improvement steps, from creating a new “discharge lounge” for patients awaiting transportation to increasing staffing. The university also is looking to improve patient planning, contract with a medical transportation vendor, and re-evaluate its targets. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Hillcrest Family Services to begin focusing on ‘brain health’
Hillcrest Family Services is rebranding thier mental health counseling to tackle stigmas. Hillcrest has changed the title of their mental health services to “brain health.” John Bellini, Chief Development and Strategy Officer at Hillcrest Family Services, said they want to change the way people perceive brain illnesses. “We want to stop using the words ‘mental illness’ and we want to stop the stigma of the people with these disorders,” said Bellini. “And really look at it like it’s the brain and it’s an organ.” (KWWL)

National News

Hospital groups rap Trump budget proposal
President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut nearly $1 trillion from Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and other safety net programs over the next decade was greeted with a chorus of boos from the nation’s hospital lobby. The proposal is not expected to get much traction in Congress. However, critics say it demonstrates the administrations ongoing efforts to shred the safety net. “Every year, the Administration aims to gut our nation’s healthcare infrastructure,” American Hospital Association President and CEO Rick Pollack said in prepared remarks. (HealthLeaders Media)

House panel advances bipartisan surprise billing legislation despite divisions
The House Education and Labor Committee on Tuesday approved a bill to protect patients from massive “surprise” medical bills, but not before a vigorous debate that showed the divides within both parties on the issue.  The vote of 32-13 sent the measure to the full House. But competing proposals must be reconciled before the chamber can vote on the issue, which is a rare area of possible bipartisan action this year. (The Hill)

Coronavirus cases fall, experts disagree whether peak is near
China reported on Wednesday its smallest number of new coronavirus cases since January, lending weight to a prediction by its top medical adviser for the outbreak to end by April, but a global diseases expert warned of the spread elsewhere. Financial markets took heart from the outlook of the Chinese official, epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, who said on Tuesday the number of new cases was falling in some provinces, and forecast the epidemic would peak this month, even as the death toll in China rose to more than 1,100 people. (Reuters)