The Newsstand

Today’s NewsStand – February 16, 2018

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

Iowa News

If we won’t talk about guns, let’s at least fix Iowa’s mental health system
Elected leaders in Des Moines and Washington, DC, won’t do anything to address gun violence, unfortunately. That must change. There’s one hopeful sign, however: In the Iowa Legislature, a series of bills would begin to fix the gaps in Iowa’s mental health system. These bills include six new access centers, increase courts’ ability to order treatment for seriously mentally impaired people who have a history of lack of compliance with treatment and allow tracking of people involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness. (Des Moines Register)

Florida shooting prompts discussion of mental health services
Wednesday’s shooting in Florida is bringing up some nationwide discussion regarding mental health services and policies. Iowa senators recently proposed legislation to strengthen what some perceive as a weak mental health system by launching six new geographically coordinated access centers to offer short term help to patients who don’t require the emergency room, as well as a 24-hour ‘crisis line’ to guide those who need help and obtain referrals. In a recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll, 64 percent of respondents say they are dissatisfied with the current system. (KIMT)

Mental health expert: Politicians are missing the point
Mental health experts are calling for lawmakers to fund mental health programs rather than using the topic as a way to avoid difficult conversations about gun control. “Just because they shoot a bunch of people doesn’t mean they have a mental illness,” said Peggy Huppert, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Huppert said Iowa lawmakers have cut many of the same mental health services that Florida has, such as family services and school-based counseling. (KCCI)

Bettendorf students start mental health discussion with trivia night
Two months ago, the sudden loss of a student to suicide brought the Bettendorf community together. Thursday night, students came together again, but this time with hopes of change. “We just kind of thought it would be a good idea to raise awareness for mental health issues and to try and eliminate the stigma with mental health issues,” said Bettendorf freshman Sophie Utsinger. Since December, the school has made counselors more available to students during their one-hour study period each day. (Our Quad Cities)

Flu cases surge in Siouxland
Michael Piplani said this is the worst flu season he has witnessed in 25 years of practicing medicine. Piplani, Siouxland Community Health Center’s chief medical officer, said the health center isn’t overrun with influenza cases as some hospitals and clinics around the country are, but he said the virus is definitely keeping staff busy. Joan Engel, infection prevention manager for Mercy Medical Center, said five to 12 patients with influenza are at the Sioux City hospital each day. (Sioux City Journal)

National News

Trump calls for action on mental health after shooting gives no specifics
President Donald Trump said that the nation should take unspecified action on mental health issues on Thursday, the day after a shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people and wounded at least 14 more. He said he plans to visit the community to meet with victims’ families. He ignored a question about gun control after his statement, and said nothing about guns or gun laws in his address. He said that the US must “tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” but offered no specifics. (Bloomberg)

How one conservative state is flouting Obamacare
Idaho is going rogue on Obamacare. The Republican-led state has a maverick plan to flout the federal health care law, letting insurers sell plans that don’t meet Obamacare coverage rules and patient protections. And the brazen move poses a test for the Trump administration. Other states see Idaho’s gambit as a blueprint for shaking off Obamacare’s regulations. But experts and consumer advocates who back the Affordable Care Act say it won’t be so easy. (Politico)

Repealing individual mandate penalty will cause spike in uninsured
The Trump administration is projecting that nearly 8 million people will voluntarily lose insurance in the next eight years as a result of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s financial penalty for not having health insurance. In all, 37.7 million people will be uninsured by 2026, up from the estimated 30 million in 2018, according to an analysis Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) actuaries released Wednesday. (Modern Healthcare)

Trump’s historic Medicaid shift goes beyond work requirements
Requiring able-bodied adults to work for their Medicaid is just part of the Trump administration’s drive to remake the decades-old health insurance program for the poor. At least 10 states have requested waivers that would allow them to impose work requirements and other obligations. But the new philosophy has alarmed many who advocate for health care access for the poor. Instead of helping people obtain work, they say the Trump approach will simply deprive people of health care. (Stateline)

As they fight flu, hospitals cope with shortage of IV fluids
Hospitals in Pennsylvania are combating a shortage of intravenous (IV) fluids as an unusually bad flu season hits. Mark Ross, southeastern regional manager of emergency preparedness at the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, said he has been monitoring the supply of intravenous supplies throughout the state for months.  Hospitals have shared supplies when necessary and have not had to cancel surgical procedures because of the shortages. (Philadelphia Inquirer)