Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|June 9, 2021

Iowa news

Iowa’s nursing homes are still experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. But the impact of the virus has not been as fatal.

Iowa’s nursing homes are still grappling with the COVID-19 virus — but the battle is not devastating the now largely vaccinated residents the way it did earlier in the pandemic. It’s both a demonstration of the power of the vaccines and a reminder that the pandemic isn’t over, despite the welcome flashes of a return to pre-pandemic life. As of Monday, the Iowa Department of Public Health classified four nursing homes in the state as experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, with 25 positive tests of staff and residents in total. But two-thirds of the people who have tested positive for the COVID-causing virus have not developed any symptoms, according to state data. (Des Moines Register)

Wellmark plans to enter Medicare Advantage market in 2022

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced it will offer new Medicare Advantage plans to Iowans and South Dakotans this fall, pending approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Its new affiliate, Wellmark Advantage Health Plan, will offer the new Medicare Advantage options during this year’s annual election period Oct. 15-Dec. 7, for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2022. (Business Record)

New funding to help MercyOne expand community health worker program

A new $160,000 grant from AmeriCorps is helping to expand MercyOne’s community health worker program. The funding is awarded through Volunteer Iowa and will allow eight AmeriCorps members to be trained as community health workers to serve communities in Clinton, Sioux City and Waterloo. Two community health workers will also be deployed in the MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center emergency department. Community health workers support screening for social determinants of health, connect patients and their families to community-based organizations, and facilitate enrollment in available federal, state and local programs to increase access to health care support services. (KWWL)


National news

Alzheimer’s Association hails FDA approval of aducanumab as historic victory

The US Food and Drug Administration approved aducanumab to treat Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, aducanumab is the first drug that slows Alzheimer’s disease, and its approval marks the beginning of a completely new future for Alzheimer’s treatments. The association said it will do everything in its power to ensure access to the drug and FDA-required diagnostic testing for all who will benefit. (Alzheimer’s Association News)

States warn Johnson and Johnson doses could expire soon and the White House urges them to consult the FDA

State health officials are growing increasingly concerned about whether doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine may expire this month, warning they could go to waste if they go unused in the coming weeks or are not sent elsewhere. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio has pleaded with health providers in his state to use about 200,000 doses of the vaccine that he said will expire Wednesday, June 23. The state’s health department directed providers to adopt a “first-in, first-out” process for the shot to ensure doses with earlier expiration dates were used first. (The New York Times)

An anti-vaccine film targeted to Black Americans spreads false information

The free online film is the latest effort by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the founder of Children’s Health Defense. (He’s a son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert “Bobby” Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy.) With this film, Kennedy and his allies in the anti-vaccine movement resurface and promote disproven claims about the dangers of vaccines, while aiming squarely at a specific demographic: Black Americans. The film draws a line from the real and disturbing history of racism and atrocities in the medical field — such as the Tuskegee syphilis study — to interviews with anti-vaccine activists who warn communities of color to be suspicious of modern-day vaccines. (Kaiser Health News)

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