The Newsstand

Today’s NewsStand — Jan. 24, 2020

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

Iowa News       

Bill would require University of Iowa medical, dental colleges to admit more Iowans
Iowa’s rural health care providers are struggling, and one lawmaker wants to better the odds that newly educated University of Iowa physicians serve those at-risk regions by mandating the state’s only medical and dental colleges admit mostly Iowans. Rep. Ann Meyer, R-Fort Dodge, introduced House File 2115 Thursday, a bill that would compel a Board of Regents policy requiring at least 75 percent of students accepted into the UI Carver College of Medicine and UI College of Dentistry be from Iowa or previously enrolled in an Iowa community, private or public college or university. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

MercyOne nurses reach tentative agreement with management
Unionized nurses at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center and hospital management have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement, potentially averting a strike by the nurses.  According to a Thursday evening post on the nurses’ Facebook page, the nurses’ union bargaining team has a “recommended tentative agreement.” Training sessions for strike captains, originally scheduled for Thursday, were cancelled. It was the result of a protracted labor dispute with hospital management over things like nurse-to-patient ratios, pay, benefits and the hospital’s strategy to handle nurse turnover. (Sioux City Journal)

Linn County gets green light to open mental health center
A nine-county mental health board voted Thursday to support crisis intervention centers in Linn and Johnson by increasing the levy that’s assessed each of the region’s counties starting in fiscal 2021. The East Central mental health region approved a 3-cent increase to the levy rate to provide $1.3 million in operational costs to the centers in the first year. The increase, from 30.91 cents to 34 cents, is assessed to each county based on population. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Trump administration finalizing Medicaid block grant plan targeting Obamacare
The Trump administration is finalizing a plan to let states convert a chunk of Medicaid funding to block grants, even as officials remain divided over how to sell the controversial change to the safety net health program. CMS Administrator Seema Verma plans to issue a letter soon explaining how states could seek waivers to receive defined payments for adults covered by Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, according to seven people with knowledge of the closely guarded effort. An announcement is tentatively slated for the end of next week, more than one year after Verma and her team began developing the plan. (Politico)

The Supreme Court isn’t done with the ACA case yet. Here are the next steps.
Tuesday’s one-sentence order from the U.S. Supreme Court denying a request to fast-track the challenge to the Affordable Care Act is not the final word from the high court. The justices will now decide whether to take up the legal case threatening to overturn the landmark law during their next term, which begins in October. Essentially, the order returns the case to the typical review process as a group of blue states, led by California’s Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, try to convince the Supreme Court it should hear the case at some point instead of letting it wind its way back through the lower courts. (Healthcare Dive)

US hospitals and states ready for more cases of novel virus from China
Even before the first U.S. case of a novel coronavirus that’s broken out in China was confirmed Tuesday, American health officials and hospitals were braced to respond. Hospitals and clinics were adapting their screening protocols to ask about travel to Wuhan, the city where the spread has been centered. State health departments were relaying messages to local providers, alerting them to be on the lookout for the infection’s symptoms. Labs were set to collect patient samples and ship them off for diagnostic testing. (STAT)