Today’s NewsStand — Oct. 7, 2020

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

Iowa news

On the front line: From the first COVID-19 cases to treatments

There are very few parts of our everyday lives that have not been impacted or changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the healthcare workers on the frontlines, this is doubly true. The Siouxland News team sat down with health officials and doctors from UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s and Mercy One Siouxland Medical Center for exclusive and extensive interviews about the virus from their eyes. (KMEG-14)

Coronavirus hospitalizations grow in the Midwest amid climbing cases — ‘It’s clearly a forest fire’

Iowa hospitals reported a more than 27% increase in Covid-19 patients on Friday compared with a week ago, climbing toward record highs last seen in May. On Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds allowed bars, restaurants, breweries and wineries to reopen in Johnson and Story counties, two of Iowa’s most populated areas where the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are located. The businesses were shuttered in late August as coronavirus cases climbed, students returned to university campuses for the fall semester and in-person classes resume at K-12 schools. Some infectious disease experts applauded the actions but said they were likely “too little too late.” (CNBC)

For Iowa hospitals, the bills are on their way, as pandemic costs deal a major blow to budgets

Even as the nation’s hospitals and health care workers have become the focal point of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the industry itself has been dealt a major blow that has resulted in historic losses. Without further aid from federal or state government, some industry experts worry about the long-term recovery of hospitals in Iowa — especially those that already were in poor financial standing before COVID-19 hit. (The Gazette)

National news

Heading into fall, COVID-19 infections among rural hospital staff is major concern

Heading into a fall season that top US officials are saying could be the “worst fall” that “we’ve ever had” with coronavirus and flu, hospital officials say the main concern going forward for rural hospitals is possible COVID-19 infections among staff. With hospitalizations going up, the next few months would be challenging in making sure there are enough rural health care workers to take care of patients heading into an unprecedented season. (KRCG-TV)

Drug companies raise prices on rural patients, threatening hospital solvency

In the midst of a global pandemic, pharmaceutical companies are threatening to stop giving discounts on drugs to rural hospitals – a policy that has helped many of them survive, advocates say. The policy, called the 340B Drug Pricing Program, requires drug companies to sell discounted prescription drugs to critical access hospitals. These hospitals – based in rural and hard-to-serve communities – use these savings to lower patients costs and help their bottom line. (Daily Yonder)

Trump signs funding bill restructuring Medicare loan repayment terms

In passing a bipartisan funding bill last week to avoid a possible government shutdown, the US Senate officially restructured and relaxed repayment terms for the Medicare loans taken out by home health providers in spring. As it pertains to Medicare loans, the continuing resolution creates new deadlines for home health providers, skilled nursing facilities and others to repay any advance and accelerated payments received in 2020. (Home Health Care News)