Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|July 12, 2021

Iowa news

Iowa counties could see changes in property taxes to help EMS departments

Before this month, some rural Iowans were facing the prospect of calling for an ambulance and having no one show up. That may change now that counties can ask voters to increase property taxes to support their emergency medical services departments. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 615, which allows counties to designate emergency medical service departments as an essential county service, placing it on an equal level with law enforcement and fire departments in the state. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa to get $25M from $4.3B settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma

A major settlement with the makers of prescription opioid OxyContin will include a slice of money for Iowa’s prevention, treatment and recovery efforts against the opioid addiction crisis. Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, have made billions of dollars from sales of the popular painkiller. Purdue sought bankruptcy protection in 2019 as a way to settle about 3,000 lawsuits it faced from state and local governments and other entities. Those lawsuits claimed the company’s continued marketing of its powerful prescription painkiller contributed to a crisis that has been linked to nearly 500,000 US deaths over the last two decades. (Des Moines Register)

Some Iowa MercyOne locations to require employees to get COVID-19 vaccine

Employees at some MercyOne locations across Iowa will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine following an announcement from their parent company, Trinity Health. Employees at MercyOne locations in Dubuque, Dyersville, New Hampton, Mason City, Clinton, Sioux City and Primghar will be required to provide proof of vaccination by Tuesday, Sept. 21. There are exemptions for religious or health reasons, which must be formally requested, documented and approved. Employees who don’t meet criteria for exemption and fail to show proof of vaccination face termination. (KWWL)


National news

Pritzker signs bill expanding covered Medicaid services

Illinois residents who have health coverage through Medicaid now have access to a broad range of services including mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, smoking cessation and dental services. Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 2294, which passed unanimously out of both chambers during the spring legislative session. Among many provisions, the bill provides that people covered under Medicaid will continue to be eligible throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency and for up to 12 months after the emergency expires. It also calls on the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to establish a program for implementation of certified community behavioral health clinics by Jan. 1, 2022, and to develop a “comprehensive behavioral health strategy” that is to be submitted to the governor and General Assembly by July 1, 2022. (Capitol News Illinois)

10 things to know about motives, negotiations behind hospital IT attacks

As cyberattacks on hospitals and health systems escalate, hackers and ransomware groups are getting more vocal about their demands and revealing details about their negotiation tactics. For example, in March, Swiss hacker Tillie Kottmann broke into San Mateo, Calif.-based security camera company Verkada and exposed live video surveillance feeds from hospitals including Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Halifax Health, Texarkana, Texas-based Wadley Regional Medical Center and Tempe (Ariz.) St. Luke’s Hospital. Tillie Kottmann is just one of the hackers who claimed credit for the Verkada breach and told Bloomberg that they attacked Verkada to show how easy it is to break into video surveillance systems. (Becker’s Health IT)

Biden zeros in on health care competition in executive order

President Joe Biden signed an executive order July 9 that addresses competition among hospitals, health insurers, prescription drugmakers and hearing aid manufacturers. Although goals of the 72-initiative executive order stretch across economic sectors, health care is one of the main markets in which the president wants to discourage consolidation. Under the order, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are encouraged to “vigorously” enforce antitrust laws, even on past mergers that previous administrations haven’t challenged. Enforcement of antitrust laws should focus specifically on health care. The executive order has four focus areas in health care: hospitals, health insurers, prescription drugs and hearing aids. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

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