Today’s NewsStand — Jan. 10, 2020

Today’s NewsStand — Jan. 10, 2020

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|January 10, 2020

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

Iowa News       

Iowa auditor slams state Medicaid program for ‘flawed’ data
The state auditor says the Iowa Department of Human Services provided data for an audit of its Medicaid Home Health Program that was so flawed that it was unusable. Auditor Rob Sand said Thursday that it took eight months to get information on the number of patients served, services received and fees paid, but the data was flawed and he couldn’t determine whether money was properly spent or recipients adequately served. A DHS spokesman disputes Sand’s assertions and says the agency relies on independent audits to ensure it’s operating properly. (Associated Press/KCRG)

UnityPoint leads funding for medical transportation platform
Kaizen Health, a startup helping health care providers schedule non-emergency medical transportation for patients, announced the close of its Series B funding round, led by UnityPoint Health’s investment arm. The Kaizen Health platform works with health care providers, payers and transportation companies to simplify the process of arranging patients’ transportation to and from appointments. The $100 million UnityPoint Health Ventures Innovation Fund launched in May 2019 with a goal of investing in early-stage digital health companies. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Iowa Policy Project report outlines legislative priorities for addressing poverty
new report identifies steps Iowa lawmakers can consider in the new legislative session to keep Iowa families and children out of poverty. The report from the Iowa Policy Project – a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research and analysis organization in Iowa City – builds off of a cost of living report from 2019 that showed about 1 in 5 Iowa working families earned too little to meet basic needs. “A number of things could be done to help such families move into the middle class,” said Peter Fisher, IPP research director. (Des Moines Business Record)

National News

Health care still a top issue for voters as primaries rev up
Health care is the top issue for the first crop of voters as the Democratic primary kicks into high gear, a new poll shows. More than half of those polled (56%) nationwide said health care would be one of their top issues when deciding who to vote for in the primary. The poll found that 59% of Iowa voters, 60% of New Hampshire voters and 56% of South Carolina voters would name health care one of their top issues in determining who to vote for in the primary. (Fierce Healthcare)

High-deductible plans jeopardize financial health of patients and rural hospitals
Plans with annual deductibles of $3,000, $5,000 or even $10,000 have become commonplace since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as insurers look for ways to keep monthly premiums to a minimum. But in rural areas, where high-deductible plans are even more prevalent and incomes tend to be lower than in urban areas, patients often struggle to pay those deductibles. But small rural hospitals are suffering, too. These facilities often stabilize critically ill patients and then transfer them to larger regional or urban hospitals for more definitive care. (Kaiser Health News)

CMS Star Ratings disadvantage hospitals serving vulnerable patients
Hospitals that primarily serve vulnerable patients may not rank as high on the CMS Star Ratings system, largely because these quality assessment programs do not take into account the social determinants of health. The rating system has been the recipient of significant controversy since its inception in 2016. Initially, hospital groups like the American Hospital Association asserted that a five-point scale could not possibly portray the nuances and intricacies of hospital quality. More recently, critics are questioning whether the Star Ratings scale is a fair measure of quality at all. (Xtelligent Healthcare Media)

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