The Newsstand

Today’s NewsStand – October 22, 2018

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

Iowa News

Sheldon doctor named ‘Hospital Hero’
Dr. Sara Zoelle suspected her children were up to something sneaky during a family trip this summer. Zoelle, a physician at Sanford Sheldon Clinic, thought nothing more about the matter until a few months later when she was named a 2018 Iowa Hospital Hero. Overseen by the Iowa Hospital Association, the Iowa Hospital Heroes Awards program was created a dozen years ago to recognize hospital employees who have performed a heroic act or tirelessly given their time, talent or expertise to better their hospital, patients or community. (NWest Iowa)

Medicaid privatization takes center stage in Iowa governor’s race
Questions about the future of Obamacare and protections for sick people are dominating congressional races all over the country, but in Iowa, the focus is decidedly more local: Did the state err when it let private insurers run its Medicaid program? It’s become a pivotal question in the tight governor’s race pitting Democrat Fred Hubbell against Governor Kim Reynolds. Backlash over service and unexpectedly high costs per beneficiary is refocusing attention on the 2015 decision to turn management of the state’s Medicaid program over to private insurers. (Politico Pro)

Reynolds, Hubbell talk IPERS in debate of their campaigns to be Iowa’s next governor
Democrat Fred Hubbell accused Republican Governor Kim Reynolds of wanting to do away with the state’s largest public employees’ pension program — a charge she dismissed as “scare tactics.” The Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System, or IPERS, is a defined-benefit program that assures retirees a monthly payment for its roughly 350,000 members. Hubbell on Sunday argued that the governor has made no explicit promise to future IPERS members and warned the program would likely be in jeopardy under a Republican administration. (Des Moines Register)

Hansen Family Hospital in Iowa Falls to stop delivering babies
An intersection of limited funds, a declining rural population and a “severe shortage of practitioners willing and able to deliver” babies in a rural setting has led Hansen Family Hospital to make a tough decision, said Doug Morse, the hospital’s CEO. Morse announced last week that as of November 23, the hospital will no longer deliver babies. That’s when the family physician who performs the majority of deliveries is leaving the hospital. “We don’t like this situation, but we need to acknowledge the realities,” Morse said. (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

National News

Medicaid expansion becomes key issue in GOP-leaning states
Nebraska isn’t the only conservative state where residents are bypassing a legislature that has refused to expand Medicaid. Voters in two other Republican-dominated states, Idaho and Utah, also will decide in November whether to expand the health insurance program to more lower-income Americans. Another ballot initiative, in Montana, seeks to raise a tobacco tax to keep funding a Medicaid expansion that is set to expire. It also has become a focal point in numerous governor’s races. (Associated Press)

Governor Candidate hopes Medicaid expansion can be a winning issue in rural Georgia
For the upscale urban audience at a campaign town hall here, it would have been enough for Stacey Abrams to pitch Medicaid expansion as a moral issue — the health-care-as-human-right argument that appeals to progressives everywhere. Instead, Abrams, the Democrat in the tossup race for Georgia governor, stuck to the pragmatic line of reasoning she has pushed in making Medicaid expansion a top priority of her campaign: It will help save the state’s struggling rural towns without busting its budget. (New York Times)

For many, a struggle to find affordable mental health care
Massachusetts has more mental health care providers per capita than any other state, more psychiatrists than anywhere but Washington, DC, more child psychiatrists than all but DC and Rhode Island. Yet poor and middle-class patients describe an often-frustrating and painful struggle to find a provider who will see them, at a price they can afford. How can this be? Only about half of all licensed mental health care providers accept payment from Massachusetts Medicaid. (Boston Globe)

Project Baseline aims to ward off illness before we get sick
One of the sobering facts about cancer treatment is that it often begins when it is already too late. That has long bothered Dr. Sam Gambhir, a top cancer researcher at Stanford University who lost his teenage son to brain cancer in 2015. Now Dr. Gambhir is leading a large study that seeks to better understand the transition from normal health to disease. The study, called Project Baseline, could lead to the identification of new markers in the blood, stool or urine of healthy people that help predict cancer, cardiovascular disease and other leading killers of Americans. (New York Times)