The Newsstand

Today’s NewsStand – August 17, 2018

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

Iowa News

Rural veterans gain better medical access through new telemedicine partnership
Clarke County Hospital in Osceola and the Veterans Administration (VA) in Des Moines recently partnered in a telemedicine exchange offering a rural Veteran a much-needed cardiology consultation. While telemedicine services are not unique to Clarke County Hospital nor the VA. – both of whom have offered the services for almost a decade each – a new collaboration between the two organizations offers potentially life-saving opportunities for rural Iowa veterans needing access to VA. consultations and diagnostics. (Osceola Sentinel-Tribune)

Mental health region problems not limited to area counties
Winnebago, Hancock, Worth, and Kossuth Counties have been embroiled in a dispute with County Social Services (CSS) Mental Health Region over spending practices, accurate accounting of county patients, and now the elimination of long time employee positions. The regional mental health system problems are not limited to local counties. Three western Iowa counties are exploring new ways to coordinate mental health services after a series of disagreements. (KIOW)

Grassley wants closer scrutiny of insurance deals
Blockbuster health care acquisitions involving two Connecticut insurers could reduce competition in prescription drug pricing and deal a blow to consumers, Iowa’s Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said as he asked the US. Department of Justice to take a closer look at the corporate deals. Regulators are reviewing a $69 billion acquisition of Hartford-based Aetna by CVS Health and the $67 billion purchase of Express Scripts Holding by Cigna in Bloomfield. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Ken Kates reflects on decade of service to UI Health Care
Often throughout his tenure as CEO of University of Iowa (UI) Hospitals and Clinics—during hospital management staff meetings or at forums open to all UI Health Care employees, for example—Ken Kates would share a letter from patients or family members. As he looks to retire next month after a 40-year career in health care administration, Kates’ influence over the past 10 years with UI Health Care is reflected in the growth of patient care volumes, new facilities and technologies, and persistent focus on patient care quality and safety, and operational efficiencies. (University of Iowa Health Care/The Loop)

National News

New data shows declines in hospital-acquired conditions saved 8,000 lives, billions in costs
New data released this month by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that national efforts to reduce hospital-acquired conditions helped prevent an estimated 8,000 deaths and saved $2.9 billion between 2014 and 2016. Through the work of the Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks (HIINs), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provides intensive, focused quality improvement assistance to more than 4,000 of the nation’s 5,000 hospitals. (Quality Improvement Organizations)

Trump readies new round of controversial Medicaid changes
The Trump administration is preparing to let conservative-led states impose additional restrictions on the nation’s health program for the poor that could push tens of thousands of people off coverage. The high-stakes changes, involving work requirements and questions about illegal drug use, have been the subject of intense behind-the-scenes lobbying in recent months by federal and state lawmakers in the latest chapter of the GOP’s long-running efforts to reshape Medicaid. And they are moving forward even after a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s work requirement in June. (Politico)

Few hospitals dedicate space for family caregivers, but that could change
Dedicated spaces for family caregivers are rare. Fewer than 20 acute-care hospitals have them, according to experts in the field. Even so, caregiver advocates believe several factors are coming together to convince hospitals such investments make economic sense even as margins are increasingly crunched. The Affordable Care Act put in place penalties for avoidable readmissions, which caregivers can help prevent, and some encouraging programs are cropping up to pay caregivers for their work. (Modern Healthcare)

Hospitals battle for control over fast-growing heart-valve procedure
When Medicare in 2011 agreed to pay for a revolutionary procedure to replace leaky heart valves by snaking a synthetic replacement up through blood vessels, the goal was to offer relief to the tens of thousands of patients too frail to endure open-heart surgery. To help ensure good results, federal officials limited Medicare payment only to hospitals that serve large numbers of cardiac patients. Now, in a campaign motivated by a muddy mix of health care and business, smaller hospitals and the medical device industry are arguing that the technique should be more widely deployed. (Kaiser Health News)