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

Iowa News

Trinity helps FD prosper
The excellence of Trinity Regional Medical Center is a good example of something so important a part of our immediate environment that it is easy to take for granted. Having a first-rate medical center close at hand is essential to the quality of life of every Fort Dodger. Trinity has become a major regional referral center for specialty care. That benefits not only those who call Fort Dodge or Webster County home, but also many others who live in the nearby counties. (Fort Dodge Messenger)

Reforming mental health
Rick Shults is aware that the lofty goals for the Iowa mental health services redesign will not come without time and effort. But the administrator of mental health and disability services for the Department of Human Services believes that they will be achievable, in time. “It’s not going to be magical,” Shults said. “It’s going to be extremely hard work. …Tomorrow we have what we have, but we need to be on a journey.” (Clinton Herald)

Peers give hope to mental health patients
Phyllis Taylor resisted her son’s demand that she go to the emergency room for psychiatric help after she threatened to kill herself last August. Taylor, 83, was despondent over her husband’s entry into a nursing home’s dementia unit and her own move to a small apartment in a town where she knew hardly anyone. She feared that if she went to the local emergency room, she would be carted off to another city and locked up in an unfamiliar place. That happens often in Iowa, where few small-town hospitals have inpatient psychiatric units — or even psychiatrists. Her son took her to Winneshiek Medical Center anyway, and Taylor found unusual support there from a woman who’d walked in her shoes. (Des Moines Register)

Sounding the alarm
“We have seen an increase in patients who don’t have health insurance or have very high deductible insurance,” said Kim Lammers, compliance officer at Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs. “For our patients who don’t have health insurance, that equates to $10 million that we aren’t able to collect. We don’t turn away anyone, though.” As far as the city goes, Finance Director Art Hill said that in the last fiscal year roughly $1.152 million was collected from ambulance users, leaving $850,000 to be paid by taxpayers. “If we collected the full amount on every bill we charge for this service, it would probably pay for the cost of operating this service,” Hill said. (Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil)

New service at West Burlington hospital all about support
A new service that helps aid patients during a serious illness has started at Great River Medical Center. GRMC recently implemented palliative care, and it’s a program that aims to relieve suffering in people with serious illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease or kidney failure. Amy Crowner, community liaison at Great River Hospice, said the service can be combined with curative treatments and therapies. Lori DeVeau, who suffers from kidney failure and diabetes, said the palliative care program makes sure her needs are met. (Burlington Hawkeye)

National News

Health care history: How the patchwork coverage came to be
Most of us get health insurance through our jobs, a system puzzling to the rest of the industrial world, where the government levies taxes and offers health coverage to all as a basic right of modern society. But for many Americans, their way feels alien — the heavy hand of government reaching into our business as some bureaucrat tells doctors and patients what to do. (Los Angeles Times)

Nation’s governors get collegial over health care
Meeting with fellow state leaders at the National Governors Association here Sunday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said his state can’t justify the health care reform’s added costs to his rapidly rising Medicaid budget when 90 percent of Wisconsin residents already have insurance. But Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn of neighboring Illinois said he could see the lives of people in his state improving roughly 18 months after the law began to take effect. The law has allowed tens of thousands of parents to keep their children on their insurance plans until they are 26, and protected thousands more children from being denied coverage due to earlier health problems.  (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Many states take a wait-and-see approach on new insurance exchanges
States are lagging in the creation of health insurance exchanges, the supermarkets where millions of consumers are supposed to buy subsidized private coverage under President Obama’s health care overhaul. Many states are waiting for a Supreme Court decision or even the November election results, to see whether central elements of the new law might be overturned or repealed. But that will be too late to start work. (New York Times)

Medicaid cuts rile doctors
A plan by Washington state’s Medicaid agency to stop paying for certain emergency-room visits is prompting pushback from hospitals and doctors, who say they will be stuck with bills for vital care they often are legally required to provide. The new cuts, set for April 1, focus on about 500 diagnoses including common infections, mild burns, strains and bruises. If an enrollee comes to an emergency room and is diagnosed with one of these conditions, the Washington Medicaid program won’t pay the hospital and doctors. (Wall Street Journal)

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