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

Iowa News

Iowa’s health ranking improves in national survey
Iowa is moving up in its health ranking, but Cedar Rapids is losing ground, according to the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. According to the report, released today, Iowa improved from 19th in 2010 to 16th in 2011, while Cedar Rapids dropped from seventh to 50th among the 190 metropolitan areas rated. “That doesn’t mean it’s bad news, necessarily, for Cedar Rapids,” said Healthways spokesman Bruce Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks said even one-tenth of a percentage point can move a city several places. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

National News

Why doctors die differently
Doctors don’t want to die any more than anyone else does. But they usually have talked about the limits of modern medicine with their families. They want to make sure that, when the time comes, no heroic measures are taken.  Why such a large gap between the decisions of doctors and patients? The case of CPR is instructive. A study by Susan Diem and others of how CPR is portrayed on TV found that it was successful in 75 percent of the cases and that 67 percent of the TV patients went home. In reality, a 2010 study of more than 95,000 cases of CPR found that only 8 percent of patients survived for more than one month. Of these, only about 3 percent could lead a mostly normal life. (Wall Street Journal)

Tax deal reduces funds for Massachusetts hospitals
The recent payroll tax cut package passed by Congress - heralded as a bipartisan nod to working families - has Massachusetts hospitals reeling over a little-noted section that will cost them tens of millions of dollars. Tucked into the legislation are cuts to the rates paid to hospitals to care for the elderly and poor, as well as a provision slicing a new preventive care fund by about a third. The cuts amount to at least $62 million over 10 years in Massachusetts and possibly significantly more, and they come on top of other reductions that have administrators feeling they have been pushed to the edge. (Boston Globe)

At-risk patients gain attention from health insurers
No one is especially envious of this group of 1 percenters: the heaviest users of health care. One percent of patients account for more than 25 percent of health care spending among the privately insured, according to a new study. Their medical bills average nearly $100,000 a year for multiple hospital stays, doctors’ visits, trips to emergency rooms and prescription drugs. And they are not always the end-of-lifers. They are people who suffer from chronic and increasingly common diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. As the new federal health care law aims to expand care and control costs, the people in the medical 1 percent are getting more attention from the nation’s health insurers. (New York Times)

Grassley jumps into federal probe over Minnesota Medicaid
U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, (R) Iowa, wants answers from the state agency that runs Minnesota’s Medicaid program. Senator Grassley rifled off a letter to the head of the Medicaid Program in Minnesota demanding answers about how 4-billion dollars in taxpayers’ money is spent and audited. Senator Grassley wants to know if there are independent audits, why the four HMOs in charge of the Minnesota program have such big financial reserves and what the rules and regulations are in this state to make sure Minnesotans are getting what they paid for. (KSTP)

More Americans seek dental treatment at the ER
More Americans are turning to the emergency room for routine dental problems — a choice that often costs 10 times more than preventive care and offers far fewer treatment options than a dentist’s office, according to an analysis of government data and dental research. Most of those emergency visits involve trouble such as toothaches that could have been avoided with regular checkups but went untreated, in many cases because of a shortage of dentists, particularly those willing to treat Medicaid patients, the analysis said. (Associated Press/Washington Post)

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