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Senators Agree Surprise Medical Bills Must Go. But How?

Two years, 16 hearings and one massive bipartisan package of legislation later, a key Senate committee says it is ready to start marking up a bill next week designed to contain health care costs. But it might not be easy since lawmakers and stakeholders at a final hearing Tuesday showed they are still far apart on one simple aspect of the proposal. That sticking point: a formula for paying for surprise medical bills, those unexpected and often high charges patients face when they get care from a doctor or hospital that isn’t in their insurance network.

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Mini-Biographies Help Clinicians Connect With Patients

Clinicians can access a lot of medical data through a patient’s electronic medical record, but there’s nowhere to learn about a patient’s personality or learn about her career, passions or values, said Thor Ringler, who has managed the My Life, My Story project since 2013. The project has developed a set of training materials to allow other VA hospitals to launch storytelling programs. About 40 VA hospitals around the country are currently interested.

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Keeping Kids Healthy and Sane in a Digital World

Smartphones, tablets and video consoles can be addictive. They interfere with sleep. They draw kids into an alternate universe, often distracting them from more productive — and healthier — real-world activities. And they are linked to anxiety and depression, learning disabilities and obesity. That’s according to a growing body of research emphasizing the physical and psychological dangers of heavy screen use.

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Iowa Hospitals Generate 140,000 Jobs, $7.7 Billion

Iowa’s community hospitals generate more than 140,000 jobs that add nearly $7.8 billion to the state’s economy, according to IHA’s latest Iowa hospital economic impact report. In addition, Iowa hospital employees by themselves spend more than $2 billion on retail sales and contribute nearly $124 million in state sales tax revenue.The IHA report examined the jobs, income, retail sales and sales tax produced by hospitals and the rest of the state’s health care sector.

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Escalating Workplace Violence Rocks Hospitals

Across the country, many doctors, nurses and other health care workers have remained silent about what is being called an epidemic of violence against them. The violent outbursts come from patients and patients’ families. And for years, it has been considered part of the job. Many health care workers say the physical and verbal abuse come primarily from patients, some of whom are disoriented because of illness or medication. Sometimes nurses and doctors are abused by family members who are on edge because their loved one is ill.

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Surprise! Fixing Out-Of-Network Bills Means Someone Must Pay

President Donald Trump called on Republicans and Democrats to pass legislation this year to end surprise medical bills, in remarks made in the White House’s Roosevelt Room on Thursday. “We’re determined to end surprise medical billing for American patients,” Trump said. A bipartisan group of senators has been working to come up with a plan for the past several months. They said Thursday that they hope to have a bill to the president by July. But will bipartisanship be enough? Even political will might not overcome divisions within the health industry.

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The Long And Winding Road To Mental Health Care For Your Kid

Mental health professionals say that with children, early intervention is crucial to avoid more severe and costly problems later on. Yet even parents with good insurance struggle to find care for their children. The US faces a growing shortage of mental health professionals trained to work with young people — at a time when depression and anxiety are on the rise. Suicide was the No. 2 cause of death for children and young adults from age 10 to 24 in 2017, after accidents.

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Association Insurance Pushes On Despite Court Ruling

The Trump administration in June issued rules making it easier for small employers to band together to buy health insurance through an association health plan, which doesn’t have to meet all the rules of the Affordable Care Act. In the first legal test, however, U.S. District Judge John Bates at the end of March sided with 11 states and the District of Columbia challenging the law. He invalidated a large chunk of those June rules, saying the administration issued them as an “end-run around the Affordable Care Act.” So what now?

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Amid Opioid Crackdown, Health Officials Reach Out To Pain Patients

Amid an ongoing crackdown on overprescribing doctors in Appalachia announced in October, patient advocates have been increasingly concerned for pain patients and those abusing prescription drugs. Being suddenly cut off from medications they depend on can be dangerous. Patients could become so desperate from withdrawal symptoms that they may resort to street drugs and could overdose.

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