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

Iowa News

GOP House budget would trim hospitals’ funding
In the House, the health and human services budget released this week by House Republicans would punish Iowa hospitals that have some of the lowest Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation. Proposals currently would cost Iowa hospitals about $13.5 million a year, equal to a roughly 2 percent per year cut in Medicaid payments. Hospitals are an integral partner in providing care to all Iowans. Republican House members should treat them with more respect. (Des Moines Register)

Marengo Memorial Hospital provides more than just quality health care
Marengo Memorial Hospital employs 171 persons that live in and around Iowa County infusing $9,900,175 to the economy annually, according to the latest study by the Iowa Hospital Association. In addition, hospital employees alone spend an estimated $2,933,279 on retail sales and sales tax in the area annually. “We take pride in our role as both healthcare provider and significant employer in our service area as both are critical,” stated Barry Goettsch, hospital CEO. (Your Weekly Paper)

Scott County wrestles with uncertain state funding
Prospects of cutting $1.1 million to $2.4 million in mental health funding prompted a dire discussion among the Scott County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Two bills aimed at reforming mental health and developmental disabilities services statewide in the Iowa Legislature have created an air of uncertainty for counties across Iowa. “No one has talked about how they’re going to fund it,” said Lori Elam, director of Scott County Community Services. “They want to add services, but they already don’t provide enough funding.” (Quad-City Times)

Oelwein looks to buy out local hospital
Since 2003, Oelwein Mercy has closed its obstetrics program, lost its RCI radiologist, dissolved its local board and late last year removed its surgical operating room. According to Wayne Saur, Fayette County, Attorney, this makes Mercy the only hospital in Iowa without an operating room. “It’s 90 days it’s $8 million non-negotiable. So do you want it or not? That’s where we are at,” Saur explained before he and other city leaders met with several hundred community members on Tuesday. The group held a forum to talk about what’s happening at the hospital and answer questions about possibly purchasing the building. (KCRG)

Going at it like blue blazes
Muscatine is ready for its close-up — not on the silver screen, though, but rather from some Blue Zones. A team of visitors will take a close look at the city to help determine whether Muscatine will get a $2.5 million grant from the Blue Zones health initiative. And with Muscatine’s proven track record, it should be a shoo-in that the city will be in the running, say its supporters. (Muscatine Journal)

National News

Hospital group to take charity tax exemptions fight to Illinois Legislature
Barring a last-minute deal with the Quinn administration over the tax-exempt status of nonprofit hospitals, a powerful hospital lobbying group has lined up a prominent downstate Democrat to propose legislation to expand what counts as charity. State Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne Jr., D- East St. Louis, has agreed to sponsor the Illinois Hospital Association’s proposal, which would overrule a two-year-old Illinois Supreme Court decision that tightened the requirements for nonprofit institutions to be exempt from property taxes. (Chicago Business)

Most voters believe health care mandate is unconstitutional
Nearly two years after President Obama signed landmark health care package into law, three-quarters of registered voters believe the law’s requirement that every American carry health insurance is unconstitutional, according to a new survey. A USA Today/Gallup poll taken earlier this month and released Monday found that a majority of voters—those surveyed in battleground states and nationwide generally—agreed in their dislike of the Affordable Care Act. Voters in battleground states are more likely to want it repealed, the poll showed. (Seattle Times)

7 accused of $375M Medicare, Medicaid fraud
Years after Jacques Roy started filing paperwork that would have made his practice the busiest Medicare provider in the U.S., authorities say they’ve found most of his work was a lie. They accused Roy on Tuesday of “selling his signature” to collect Medicare and Medicaid payments for work that was never done or wasn’t necessary. Others charged in the scheme are accused of fraudulently signing up patients or offering them cash, free groceries or food stamps to give their names and a number used to bill Medicare. Roy, 41, a doctor who owned Medistat Group Associates in DeSoto, Texas, faces up to 100 years in prison if he’s convicted of several counts of health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  (Associated Press/National Public Radio)

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