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Report Underscores the Struggle of Rural Hospitals

An estimated 430 rural hospitals, including 17 in Iowa, are in danger of closing unless their financial outlook improves, a situation that has broad ramifications not just for access to health care but those communities’ economic livelihoods. Dozens of rural hospitals have already closed nationwide this decade. About two-thirds of rural hospitals now at high risk of shuttering are considered essential because they serve vulnerable populations, are geographically isolated and employ a sizeable share of residents.

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List of Top Critical Access Hospitals Includes 15 in Iowa

The Chartis Center for Rural Health has unveiled its 2019 Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and 15 Iowa CAHs are included in the list, a number far higher than any other state. CAHs are typically small facilities that serve large rural areas, often one or more counties. Iowa has 82 CAHs. Chartis also announced its Top 100 Rural and Community Hospitals and that list includes four Iowa hospitals.

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Online Ads for Skimpy Health Plans Follow Consumers

Consumers shopping for insurance online last fall were most often directed to websites that promote individual health plans that didn’t meet consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act. “It was disturbing, but not unexpected, to find such a high proportion of misleading ads and come-ons, That raises the risk that consumers could be duped into buying health insurance that they think offers comprehensive and secure coverage but does not.”

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Meth Makes a Comeback; Addiction Meds Still Scarce

Even as the opioid epidemic continues, the toll of methamphetamine use is on the rise, too. The rate of overdose deaths involving the stimulant more than tripled from 2011 to 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. But unlike the opioid epidemic — for which medications exist to help combat addiction — medical providers have few such tools to help methamphetamine users survive and recover.

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Rising Drug Prices Strain Hospital Budgets

Rising costs of prescription drugs have strained hospital budgets and operations, forcing health systems to cut costs by reducing staff, according to a new study. Hospital drug spending increased by 18.5 percent between 2015 and 2017, a rate far exceeding medical inflation for the period. US community hospitals spent an average of $555.40 on prescription drugs for each admitted patient in 2017.

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Health Care Takes Center Stage in Governor’s Address

During this week’s Condition of the State address, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds committed to support – and provide funding to – several key health care issues, including mental health, Iowa’s health care workforce and rural development. Here is a closer look at what the governor shared regarding those areas.

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Iowa Hospitals Outline 2019 Legislative Priorities

Iowa hospitals and their 74,000 employees across the state are on the frontline of maintaining and improving the health of Iowans by providing quality care services and leadership to community health initiatives. The Iowa Hospital Association (IHA), which represents all of the state’s 118 community hospitald, supports policies that improve the experience of health care delivery, improve the health of the population and control health care costs.

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How Medicaid Work Rules Are Failing

Before Arkansas began implementing its new Medicaid work requirement policy, it was predicted to lead to large coverage losses, including among beneficiaries who are eligible but get tripped up by red tape, and would not meaningfully increase employment. As of December 1, nearly 17,000 Arkansas Medicaid beneficiaries have lost coverage. Here’s why.

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Ruling Puts Affordable Care Act Back into Play

Federal District Judge Reed O’Connor again thrust the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into uncertainty with his December 14 ruling that concluded that eliminating the tax penalty for not having insurance renders the entire law unconstitutional. Here are some key takeaways from the ruling.

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