NewsStand, April 5, 2024

NewsStand, April 5, 2024

By Iowa Hospital Association|
|April 4, 2024

Iowa news

Bipartisan bill overhauling mental health system passes in Iowa House

House lawmakers have passed a bill that would overhaul Iowa’s mental health and substance treatment disorder system. Gov. Kim Reynolds’ bill would eliminate the state’s mental health and disability service regions and provider networks that oversee substance use disorder treatment. In its place, it created seven behavioral health districts that would cover mental health and substance use to be supervised by the Department of Health and Human Services. Disability services would be placed directly under a division of HHS. The bill received support from both parties. It passed the House with a vote of 88 to 6. (Iowa Public Radio)

Data suggests Iowa’s Medicaid investigators are understaffed, underfunded

New data suggests Iowa continues to understaff and underfund the office investigating Medicaid fraud and patient abuse. All 50 states have a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit tasked with investigating abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries and financial fraud perpetrated by Medicaid-funded medical providers. Like Medicaid, the unit’s operations are paid for with state and federal funding. The nation’s units collectively recover $3.35 for every tax dollar they spend, usually through civil penalties stemming from fraud investigations. A new report from the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that last year, the units recovered $1.2 billion for taxpayers and secured 329 convictions for patient abuse or neglect. (Des Moines Register)

For-profit companies open psychiatric hospitals in areas clamoring for care

A for-profit company has proposed turning a boarded-up former nursing home in Grinnell into a psychiatric hospital, joining a national trend toward having such hospitals owned by investors instead of by state governments or nonprofit health systems. The companies see a business opportunity in the shortage of inpatient beds for people with severe mental illness. Eight nonprofit Iowa hospitals have shuttered their psychiatric units since 2007, often citing staffing and financial challenges. Iowa closed two of its four mental health institutions in 2015. The state now ranks last nationwide for access to state-run psychiatric hospitals. The Treatment Advocacy Center recommends that states have at least 50 state-run psychiatric beds for 100,000 people. Iowa has just two such beds per 100,000 residents. (CBS News)

National news

The Joint Commission tweaks hospital survey process

The Joint Commission updates how infection prevention, control and medicine management systems are evaluated during hospital surveys. Effective May 1, these systems will no longer be evaluated in a meeting format. Instead, surveyors will assess these processes during individual tracer sessions. During tracers, surveyors will observe processes, interview key staff and visit areas of the organization that are integral to the daily functioning of these systems. All surveyors will evaluate infection control-related systems throughout the survey, while the medicine management system will be analyzed during a block of tracer time. (The Joint Commission)

UnitedHealth investigating data leak from Change hack

UnitedHealth Group has confirmed that data has been compromised because of the Feb. 21 cyberattack on its subsidiary Change Healthcare. UnitedHealth is working with a vendor to analyze the data types the breach could have compromised. UnitedHealth said there is no evidence that the compromised data has been published on the web but that it will offer to do notification work for customers where permitted if their data has been compromised. (United Health Group)

85% of hospital nurses said they’d quit by 2024. Did they?

A January 2023 nurse survey fueled fears of an exodus, as 85% of those in hospital roles said they planned to quit within the next 12 months. Those 12 months have come and gone. About 14 months have passed since AMN Healthcare polled more than 18,000 registered nurses — finding double-digit decreases in satisfaction scores and double-digit increases in the emotional drain. Yet, hospital nurses do not appear to have reached that ultimate boiling point. There hasn’t been a collective great resignation, and nursing shortages have eased by some measures. Health systems took the signal to double down on retention efforts, which have helped delay departures in the short term. But organizations shouldn’t rest on those laurels. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

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