Today’s NewsStand

Today’s NewsStand

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|January 6, 2023

Iowa news

Report finds 2% of Iowa hospitals at immediate risk of closure

2% of Iowa hospitals are at immediate risk of closing because of financial losses and lack of financial reserves to sustain operations, according to the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform. Nationwide, 220 rural hospitals — more than 10% — are at immediate risk of closure. All but seven states have at least one rural hospital at immediate risk of shutting down, while six have none, according to the report. The hospitals identified as being at immediate risk of closure had either low or nonexistent financial reserves and a cumulative negative total margin over the most recent three-year period. (Becker’s Hospital CFO Report)

Neal named one of 10 rural hospital CFOs to know

Rural hospitals provide access to health services for communities that may otherwise face barriers to quality care. CFOs of rural hospitals play a key role in ensuring hospital operations run smoothly. Becker’s recently recognized 10 rural hospital CFOs for their leadership roles and accomplishments. Kaley Neal has directed the financial activities for Shenandoah Medical Center since 2017. Throughout her tenure, Neal has orchestrated the growth and expansion of the medical center, shaping it into one of Iowa’s strongest operating facilities. She helped complete a $25 million facility expansion that added a medical office building, surgery center and emergency department, and also oversaw the financing of a $13 million cancer center. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

With super-contagious XBB.1.5 variant looming, Iowa COVID-19 cases holding steady so far

Iowa entered the new year in roughly the same pandemic situation as it left the previous one, according to Iowa Department of Public Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. But a new, even more contagious variant of the virus is waiting in the wings. After spending much of December with between 200 and 300 COVID-19 hospitalizations, the state’s hospitals reported 248 patients with COVID-19, according to the federal health and human services department. Of those, 17 required intensive care for COVID-19 complications. The number of new cases reported in the state dropped from its December levels. Last week, there were 2,148 new cases reported, and this week saw 2,256 added to the tally. That’s roughly 307 and 322 cases per day over those respective weeks, down from an average of about 500 over the rest of December. (Des Moines Register)

National news

CMS’ proposed HIPAA rule would streamline transactions with attachments, e-signatures

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed a new rule that would modify HIPAA to better support claims and prior-authorization transactions – providing standards for electronic signatures to be used with health care attachments transactions. If finalized, the rule would promote standards adoption for transactions with attachments for prior authorizations, including medical charts, X-rays and provider notes that document physician referrals. The proposed rule could save $454 million a year in administrative costs, according to CMS. (Health Care IT News)

Hospital margins see 11th-hour improvement

Hospitals experienced a slight boost to operating margins in November, but not enough to restore the median negative margins that persisted for 2022 to date. Kaufman Hall’s December National Flash Hospital Report — based on data from more than 900 hospitals — found hospitals’ median operating margin was -0.2% through November, a slight improvement from the median of -0.3% recorded a month prior. A 1% decline in expenses from October to November drove the 11th-hour improvement to margins and tipped the scales on hospitals’ relatively flat revenue. (Kaufman Hall)

S&P: Nonprofit health care will likely take years to recover

The U.S. nonprofit health care system faces a very long road ahead to any potential financial recovery as it deals with persistent operating pressures and investment market volatility, S&P Global Ratings said in a report in which the agency downgraded its sector view to negative. Although challenges will remain on the investment side through 2023 as weaker cash flow and the need for capital spending amid higher construction costs restricts reserves, the main obstacle facing health care systems will be sustained labor costs. (Becker’s Hospital CFO Report)

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