Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|January 14, 2022

Iowa news

Provider groups at odds with regulators over arbitration rules for No Surprises Act

Although a new federal law means that Iowa patients should no longer receive surprise medical bills after an emergency room visit or hospital stay, health care provider groups and insurers are still wrangling at the national level over details of the dispute resolution rules that have been devised by regulators. Surprise billing, also known as balance billing, occurs when a person seeks care at an in-network facility or provider, but unknowingly receives services that are out-of-network. Nationally, about 1 in 5 emergency room visits and up to 1 in 6 in-network hospitalizations include at least one surprise out-of-network bill, according to a 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation study. (Business Journal)

Burnout deepens for Iowa health care workers with latest COVID-19 surge

Rachel Fratzke led her Mercy Iowa City nursing staff in a meditation session to start the work day Monday morning. A nurse manager, she had the nurses do deep breathing exercises and think about when they first wanted to be a nurse, or how they felt about passing their certifying board exams. The session was necessary, Fratzke said, to deal with the facts of COVID-19 and the rippling effects the coronavirus is sending through the nurses’ work day but also home life. That reality has made health care workers and administrators weary, thinking that the two years they’ve spent warning people about the highly contagious COVID-19 and its effect on hospital resources have yielded little to help relieve the pressure. (IowaWatch)

‘We’re in a critical moment’ to slow omicron COVID-19 spread, UI Hospitals leader tells Iowans

The leader of the University of Iowa Hospitals predicted Thursday that the omicron variant of the coronavirus would continue to slam the state for a few more weeks, and he urged Iowans to take precautions until it recedes. Suresh Gunasekaran, the hospital’s CEO, said his facility and other Iowa hospitals are stretched thin by the surging number of patients and short staffing, which has been worsened by large numbers of health care workers either becoming infected or needing to stay home to care for family members who are. (Des Moines Register)

National news

Center for COVID Control’s nationwide testing sites to ‘pause’ as authorities in two states shut down centers

A nationwide coronavirus testing company under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice and which has drawn criticism from customers in several states announced a one-week pause on all operations. The pause was expected to be in effect Jan. 14-21 at all Center for COVID Control testing sites. The Illinois-based company’s website says it has more than 300 locations in the U.S. Two of those, Massachusetts and Washington, took action this week to shut down several of the company’s testing centers in their communities. (Des Moines Register)

Hospitals urge patients to show compassion to workers amid staffing shortages

Hospitals and health systems across the U.S. are asking patients to show kindness and patience to staff on the front lines of the latest COVID-19 surge. In a letter sent to patients, which was shared with ABC affiliate KGTV, San Diego-based Scripps Health noted the exhaustion of employees as well as reports of abuse against staff. “Healthcare workers are exhausted, and they need your support. So please, when you do access care, be kind. Be patient. Be understanding. Our doctors and staff need it right now more than ever,” the letter said. The letter also said “healthcare workers were regarded as heroes” at the beginning of the pandemic, but “now, we are hearing from our staff members that they are sometimes being met with demeaning comments and verbal abuse from patients.” (Becker’s Hospital Review)

Biden says his administration will make free high-quality face masks available to all Americans

President Joe Biden has announced his administration would make high-quality masks available to Americans for free, as the U.S. struggles to contain the new surge of the omicron variant and hospitalizations from COVID-19 reach new highs. The president also announced his administration would purchase an additional 500 million COVID-19 tests ― on top of the 500 million tests he previously announced ― and said the website where Americans can go to get the free tests shipped to them will be rolled out next week. (CNN)

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