Midwest Healthcare News Oct 4, 2015

Midwest Healthcare News

  • Kansas Providers Pressured By Lack Of Medicaid Expansion

    At Least One Hospital Slated to Close as a Result

    Sep 29, 2015 By Jim McLean


    Kansas’ “failure” to expand Medicaid is putting healthcare providers in jeopardy, the head of the state’s largest health system said Wednesday.

    Jeff Korsmo, CEO of Wichita-based Via Christi Health, issued a statement calling on Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders to drop their opposition to expanding KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

  • HHS Will Push For Greater Enrollment Numbers In 2016

    Agency Will Launch Aggressive Marketing Campaign

    Sep 29, 2015 By Mary Agnes Carey


    The health law’s upcoming enrollment period may be its toughest yet, with federal officials promising a vigorous outreach campaign to enroll millions of eligible yet hard-to-reach Americans who have yet to sign up for health insurance.

    “Those who are still uninsured are going to be a bigger challenge,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Tuesday in remarks to the Howard University College of Medicine.

  • Prescribing Statins To Elderly Raises Concerns

    Little Research Has Been Performed About Their Impact

    Sep 29, 2015 By Lisa Gillespie


    Many doctors are choosing a better-safe-than-sorry approach to heading off heart trouble in very elderly patients.

    Inexpensive statin drugs are given to millions of people to reduce cholesterol, even many who do not show signs of heart disease. But a recent study has found that seniors with no history of heart trouble are now nearly four times more likely – from 9 percent to 34 percent – to get those drugs than they were in 1999.

  • Male Anesthesiologists Earn Far More Than Female Colleagues

    Study Says Variety of Factors in Play

    Sep 22, 2015 By Shefali Luthra


    In anesthesiology, it pays – literally – to be a man.

    At least, that’s what’s suggested by a study examining this specialty’s demographics and salaries in 2007 and again in 2013. The study, by the RAND Corp., a nonpartisan research institute, was published Thursday in the journal Anesthesiology.

  • Co-Op Health Plans Are Struggling

    Closures In Iowa And Nebraska

    Sep 22, 2015 By Michael Ollove


    Consumer-run health insurance cooperatives, created under the Affordable Care Act to stimulate competition and lower prices for health insurance, faltered almost from the start.

    In just the last two months, health insurance cooperatives in Louisiana and Nevada announced they were going belly up at the end of the year. They followed another, operating in Nebraska and Iowa, which had been ordered by a state court to liquidate.

  • Obesity Rates Inch Up In Kansas And Missouri

    Nearly A Third Of The Residents Fit Description

    Sep 22, 2015 By Bryan Thompson


    Almost one in every three adults in Kansas and Missouri is not just overweight but obese, according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

    "The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America" notes that obesity rates nationwide have stabilized, but at a level that’s much too high.

  • Hospital-Owned Physician Groups Means More Internal Referrals

    Stanford Study Suggests This Drives Up Costs

    Sep 15, 2015 By Phil Galewitz


    Why did hospitals binge-buy doctor practices in recent years?

    To improve care coordination, lower costs and upgrade patient experiences, say hospitals. To raise costs, gain pricing power and steer patient referrals, say skeptics.

  • Educating Doctors About Patient Costs

    More Medical Schools Are Examining Prices of Care

    Sep 15, 2015 By Rebecca Plevin


    Time for a pop quiz: When it comes to healthcare, what’s the difference between cost, charge and payment?

    “Does anyone want to take a stab at it?” Sara-Megumi Naylor asked a group of first-year residents at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

  • A Push For More Informational Death Certificates

    Iowa Among Few States With Sophisticated Filing System

    Sep 15, 2015 By Michael Ollove


    Robert Anderson may know more about death than anybody else in the United States.

    Anderson is chief of mortality statistics for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Information about death flows into his suburban Maryland office from all over the country, detailing not only how many Americans have died—2,596,993 in 2013—but the causes of those deaths. Researchers use the information to learn what kills Americans, and public officials use it to craft policies to improve health and safety.

  • Kansas Medicaid Has To Pay HomeCare Workers Significantly More

    Court Ruling Requires Payment of Minimum Wage, Overtime

    Sep 1, 2015 By Dave Ranney


    Kansas officials are reviewing a recent federal appeals court ruling that requires the state’s Medicaid program to pay in-home care workers minimum wage and overtime.

    Officials at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services issued a statement shortly after the court decision was announced on Friday saying they were attempting to determine its “potential impact” on the state’s Medicaid program, known as KanCare.

  • In Defiance Of Trend, New Abortion Clinic Opens In Ohio

    State Has Aggressively Tried to Curb Access

    Sep 1, 2015 By Sarah Jane Tribble


    David Burkons, M.D., graduated from medical school and began practicing obstetrics and gynecology in 1973 – the same year of the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion decision inRoe v. Wade.

    Burkons liked delivering babies but he is also committed to serving his patients, including those who choose abortions.

  • Vaccine Exemptions Coming Under Fire

    Outbreaks Are Raising More Concern

    Sep 1, 2015 By Michelle Andrews


    When kids start school this fall, it’s a sure bet that some won’t have had their recommended vaccines because their parents have claimed exemptions from school requirements for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Following the much publicized outbreak of measles that started in Disneyland in California in December, these exemptions have drawn increased scrutiny.

    That outbreak, which eventually infected 147 people in seven states, was a wake-up call for many parents, who may not have realized how contagious or serious the disease can be, and for states as well, say public health officials.

  • Kansas Community Clinics Struggle To Meet Demand

    Lack of Medicaid Expansion Creates Steady Stream of Patients

    Aug 25, 2015 By Bryan Thompson


    for their services.

    Rebecca Lewis once was among those Kansans. In 2011, the McPherson woman found herself working three part-time jobs and trying to complete a college degree. As a single mom with three young boys — then ages 8, 5 and 2 — it was hard to make ends meet.

  • Medicare Wants To Pay For End-Of-Life Discussions

    But Resistance From Religious Groups Remains Formidable

    Aug 25, 2015 By Kristian Voden-Fencil


    Remember the so-called death panels?

    When Congress debated the Affordable Care Act in 2009, the legislation originally included a provision that would have allowed Medicare to reimburse doctors when they meet with patients to talk about end-of-life care.

  • Racial Disparities In Hospice Care Persist

    African-Americans Less Likely Than Other Groups to Enroll

    Aug 25, 2015 By Sarah Varney


    Twice already Narseary and Vernal Harris have watched a son die. The first time — Paul, at age 26 — was agonizing and frenzied, his body tethered to a machine meant to keep him alive as his incurable sickle cell disease progressed. When the same illness ravaged Solomon, at age 33, the Harrises reluctantly turned to hospice in the hope that his last days might somehow be less harrowing than his brother’s.

    Their expectations were low. “They take your money,” Mrs. Harris said, describing what she had heard of hospice. “Your loved ones don’t see you anymore. You just go there and die.”

  • States Engage In Residency Swapping

    Shortage of Slots in Iowa, Other Midwest States

    Aug 18, 2015 By Rebecca Beitsch


    Last year, 369 students graduated from Iowa medical schools, but at least 131 of them had to finish their training elsewhere because Iowa had only 238 residency positions available.

    The story was the same for at least 186 students who graduated from Missouri medical schools and 200 who studied at Tennessee schools. States such as New York, California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were happy to take them—all four states took in more residents than students they trained.

  • Call It Lack Of Sleep

    Hospitals Often Deprive Patients of Crucial Shut-Eye

    Aug 18, 2015 By Shefali Luthra


    It’s a common complaint — if you spend a night in the hospital, you probably won’t get much sleep.

    There’s the noise. There’s the bright fluorescent hallway light. And there’s the unending barrage of nighttime interruptions: vitals checks, medication administration, blood draws and the rest.

  • Kansas Budget Priorities Short-Change CHIP Program

    New Funding Shifted to Cover State's Shortfalls

    Aug 18, 2015 By Jim McLean


    Governor Sam Brownback’s decision to divert federal funding away from a health insurance program is drawing sharp criticism from children’s advocates.

    Shannon Cotsoradis, president of the nonprofit advocacy organization Kansas Action for Children, said the governor is shortchanging Kansas families who depend on the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

  • Kansas Scores Poorly In Cancer Prevention Measures

    Report Says Little Progress Has Been Made

    Aug 11, 2015 By Bryan Thompson


    Kansas is in the bottom half of the class on a new report from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

    The report, “How Do You Measure Up,” judges states on nine policies related to cancer control and prevention. It uses a traffic signal color scheme to indicate state legislative progress: green for a positive trend, red for serious shortcomings and yellow for somewhere between.

  • Teletherapy Could Help Seniors In Rural Areas

    Study Suggests Strong Therapeutic Benefits

    Aug 11, 2015 By Lisa Gillespie


    Therapy provided over the phone lowered symptoms of anxiety and depression among older adults in rural areas with a lack of mental health services, a new study shows.

    The option is important, one expert said, because seniors often have increased need for treatment as they cope with the effects of disease and the emotional tolls of aging and loss.

  • Iowa's Shift To Medicaid Managed Care Causes Worries

    Concern Special Needs Children Will Lose Needed Care

    Aug 11, 2015 By Clay Masters


    Brenda Hummel’s 7-year-old daughter Andrea was born with severe epilepsy. Like many children with significant diseases or disabilities, she has health insurance through Medicaid. Hummel navigated Iowa’s Medicaid resources for years to find just the right doctors and care for her daughter. But now Iowa’s governor, Republican Terry Branstad, is moving full speed ahead with a plan to put private companies in charge of managing Medicaid’s services, and that has Hummel worried.

    Everywhere in the Hummel household, there are signs of just how much care Andrea needs. Her bedroom, for instance, looks like a typical kid’s room — stuffed animals, a frog light that shines images on the ceiling, and a butterfly mobile. But the bed stands out – the head of the bed goes up and down so Andrea can have her head elevated when she sleeps.

  • Is Mental Health Parity Law A Dud?

    Insurers Fighting Back Against Coverage

    Aug 4, 2015 By Jenny Gold


    When Michael Kamins opened the letter from his insurer, he was enraged.

    His 20-year old son recently had been hospitalized twice with bipolar disorder and rescued from the brink of suicide, he said. Now, the insurer said he had improved and it was no longer medically necessary for the young man to see his psychiatrist two times a week. The company would pay for two visits per month.

  • Thousands Of Kansans Affected By Security Breach

    Patient Portal Provider For Hospitals Was Hacked

    Aug 4, 2015 By Bryan Thompson


  • Most Of Nation's Hospitals Penalized By Medicare

    Dinged For Early Patient Readmissions

    Aug 4, 2015 By Jordan Rau


    Once again, the majority of the nation’s hospitals are being penalized by Medicare for having patients frequently return within a month of discharge — this time losing a combined $420 million, government records show.

    In the fourth year of federal readmission penalties, 2,592 hospitals will receive lower payments for every Medicare patient that stays in the hospital — readmitted or not — starting in October. The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, created by the Affordable Care Act, was designed to make hospitals pay closer attention to what happens to their patients after they get discharged.

  • Even In Prison, There's No Escaping Co-Pays

    Most States Charge Inmates For Care

    Jul 28, 2015 By Michael Ollove


    Even going to prison doesn’t spare patients from having to pay medical copays.

    In response to the rapidly rising cost of providing healthcare, states are increasingly authorizing the collection of fees from prisoners for medical services they receive while in state prisons or local jails. At least 38 states now do it, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and Stateline reporting.

  • HHS Health Center Initiative Falls Flat

    Did Not Come Close to Estimated Savings

    Jul 28, 2015 By Phil Galewitz


    A $57 million experiment to deliver better, more efficient care at federally funded health centers struggled to meet its goals and is unlikely to save money, said a new government report.

    The test to coordinate treatment for high-risk Medicare patients in hundreds of communities was one of many demonstrations run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ innovation center.

  • Missouri Not Likely To Expand Medicaid Eligibility Soon

    Safety Net Hospitals Feeling Pinch

    Jul 28, 2015 By Dan Margoiles


    It’s a sweltering Monday afternoon, and in the emergency room of Truman Medical Centers near downtown Kansas City, Mo., a patient complains of excruciating abdominal pain.

    The attending physician advises her there’s only so much he can do.

  • Kansas Medicaid Backers Must Change Tact To Achieve Expansion

    More Personal Stories Are Needed

    Jul 21, 2015 By Andy Marso


    One of the leading advocates for Medicaid expansion in Kansas says it’s time to change tactics.

    This week Alaska became the 30th state to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. Kansas is one of the remaining states where Republican legislators and governors remain resistant.

  • Medically Complex Kids Are Drain On Medicaid Program

    Providers in Midwest and Elsewhere Device Ways of Alternate Care

    Jul 21, 2015 By Christine Vestal


    Five-year-old Lakota Lockhart talks about Batman nonstop. When his mom, Krystal, can wedge in a word, she describes what life has been like since Lakota was born with a rare central nervous system disorder that causes his breathing to stop every time he falls asleep.

    She says they’re lucky Lakota was born across the street, at Brandon Regional Hospital in Tampa, Fla., or she might never have known about the Chronic Complex Clinic at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital.

  • When It Comes To Delivering A Baby, The Price Varies Widely

    Some Hospitals Charge $2,000, Some $12,000

    Jul 21, 2015 By Michelle Andrews


    Which hospital parents pick to deliver their baby can have serious cost consequences, according to a new study.

    Hospital costs for women who had no maternal or obstetric risk factors to complicate childbirth ranged from less than $2,000 to nearly $12,000, the analysis of discharge data found. The wide variation in cost means that for expectant parents, it can pay to shop around.

  • Companies That Run Kansas' Medicaid Program Are Big Donors To Lawmakers

    Amerigroup, Centene lead the pack

    Jul 14, 2015 By Andy Marso


    The three companies that administer KanCare have donated more than $50,000 to the campaigns of current Kansas legislators since the $3 billion Medicaid program began in 2013.

    Amerigroup leads the trio with $27,750 in donations, as of the most recent filings, which include donations through Dec. 31, 2014. Centene Management Corporation, the parent company of Sunflower State Health Plan, gave $17,250 in that time period. United for Health, the political action committee of United HealthCare, came in a distant third with $6,200 in campaign cash. Amerigroup donated to 20 current senators and 37 current House members, Centene gave to five senators and 26 House members, and United HealthCare donated to nine senators and four House members.

  • HHS Proposes Big Changes To Nursing Home Operations

    Wide Ranging Revamp Comes As Population Ages

    Jul 14, 2015 By Susan Jaffe


    After nearly 30 years, the Obama administration wants to modernize the rules nursing homes must follow to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid payments.

    The hundreds of pages of proposed changes cover everything from meal times to use of antipsychotic drugs to staffing. Some are required by the Affordable Care Act and other recent federal laws, as well as the president’s executive order directing agencies to simplify regulations and minimize the costs of compliance.

  • Cellphones In Operating Rooms A Growing Concern

    Their Ability to Distract Becomes a Safety Issue

    Jul 14, 2015 By Shefali Luthra


    Next time you’re on the operating table and you have one last look around as the anesthesiologist approaches, don’t be too sure that that person in scrubs looking at a smartphone is pulling up vital health data. He or she might be texting a friend, or ordering a new carpet.

    Cellphone use is not generally restricted in the operating room, but some experts say the time for rules has come. In interviews, many described co-workers’ texting friends and relatives from the surgical suite. Some spoke of colleagues who hide a phone in a drawer and check it when they think no one is watching.

  • Obama Asks Republicans For Cooperation In Fixing ACA

    Wants Bipartisan Support to Address Lingering Issues

    Jul 7, 2015 By Mary Agnes Carey


    President Barack Obama called on Republicans last week to find a bipartisan way to fix problems in the nation’s health care system rather than continue to fight over the health law.

    “Part of what I’m hoping is with the Supreme Court case now behind us what we can do is … focus on how we can make it even better because it’s not as if we’ve solved all the problems in our health care system,” Obama said in remarks at an elementary school in Nashville, Tenn. “America still spends more on health care than any other advanced nation and our outcomes aren’t particularly better.”

  • Legalization Of Gay Marriage Expected To Boost Ranks Of Insured

    More Couples to Gain Access to Employer Plans

    Jul 7, 2015 By Jay Hancock


    The right to marry in any state won’t be the only gain for gay couples from the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The decision will probably boost health insurance among gay couples as same-sex spouses get access to employer plans, say analysts and benefits consultants.

    How much is unclear, but “it’s going to increase coverage” in a community that has often had trouble getting access to medical services, said Jennifer Kates, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

  • States Moving To Cap Costs Of Specialty Drugs

    Rising Prices to Blame; Midwest Yet to Act

    Jul 7, 2015 By Michael Ollove


    As more expensive specialty drugs come on the market to treat some of the most serious chronic diseases, more states are stepping in to cushion the financial pain for patients who need medicine that can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

    At least seven states — Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York and Vermont — limit the out-of-pocket payments of patients in private health plans. Montana, for instance, caps the amount that patients pay at $250 per prescription per month. Delaware, Maryland and Louisiana set the monthly limit at $150 and Vermont at $100. Maine sets an annual limit of $3,500 per drug.


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