NewsStand, Jan. 9, 2024

NewsStand, Jan. 9, 2024

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|January 8, 2024

Iowa news

Pella Regional delivered a record-breaking 610 babies in 2023

There were 610 babies delivered at Pella Regional Health Center in 2023, a record for the hospital. The previous high mark was 607 babies born in 2019. Over half of Iowa’s 99 counties do not have obstetrics units, and eight of those counties are directly in or next to areas served by Pella Regional. The health center’s family of medical clinics offers 10 family practice physicians who also practice obstetrics to serve their growing service area in providing prenatal care, delivery and care of the newborn after delivery. (KNIA/KLRS)

Orthopedics to dominate University of Iowa North Liberty hospital

About halfway through construction of the University of Iowa’s new hospital in North Liberty, its orthopedics department has shared more details about plans to move its clinical, surgical, research and educational operations to the site — where they would make up the bulk of the facility’s offerings. “Orthopedic spaces” in the new half-billion-dollar, 469,000-square-foot hospital include 84 clinic examination rooms, 12 operating rooms, two procedure rooms and 36 inpatient beds — along with an orthopedic walk-in clinic, conference center, skills laboratory, research space and indoor-outdoor physical therapy space. (The Gazette)

Covenant Family Solutions opens new Ames clinic

Regional mental health care provider Covenant Family Solutions opened its first central Iowa clinic last month. The organization provides mental and behavioral health care services, including therapy and medicine management, for individuals, couples and families. The new clinic in Ames hopes to address the lack of mental health care in central Iowa, where there is fewer than one mental health provider available for every 1,000 people. Covenant Family Solutions operates eight other clinics throughout Iowa and South Dakota. The Ames clinic will employ mental health therapists and nurse practitioners who can prescribe and manage psychiatric medicines. (Business Record)

National news

13 states with ‘very high’ respiratory virus levels

COVID-19 and flu admissions continue to climb nationwide, with 31 states reporting high levels of respiratory virus activity. This total includes a growing number of states seeing “very high” activity levels. Two weeks ago, just five states reported very high levels. Virus activity levels are a measure of the weekly percentage of visits to an outpatient health care provider or emergency department for fever and cough or sore throat. They reflect how the percentage in the most recent week compares to what that jurisdiction typically experiences during low circulation periods. There are 13 activity levels, with 1 representing “minimal” activity and 13 representing “very high” activity. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Lawmakers to lock in telehealth regulations in 2024

As COVID-19-era telehealth regulations expire, lawmakers and industry advocates aim to finalize telehealth regulations in three areas: Medicare waivers – because of the pandemic, CMS introduced waivers that allowed physicians to receive Medicare payments despite location. The CONNECT Act would eliminate geographic telehealth restrictions; expansion to underinsured – underinsured patients and those with high-deductible plans couldn’t access telehealth services through CARES Act flexibility. The Telehealth Expansion Act would make those changes permanent; and controlled substance prescriptions – the TREATS Act would allow for the prescription of opioid use disorder drugs by telehealth. (Bloomberg Law)

The 2-midnight rule and Medicare Advantage changes in 2024

There are major changes afoot for Medicare Advantage plans in 2024 and when they are required to cover inpatient services in hospitals for their members. The changes are likely to present challenges for hospitals and how physicians document inpatient care. In the 2014 Medicare inpatient prospective payment system final rule, CMS included a new regulation for hospitals and health systems: the two-midnight rule. Under the rule, inpatient admissions are covered for traditional Medicare beneficiaries who require more than a one-day stay in a hospital or who need treatment specified as inpatient only. Stays lasting less than two midnights must be treated and billed as outpatient. (Becker’s Payer’s Issues)


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