Healthcare

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst says she wants the federal government to continue making payments for Obamacare subsidies to health insurance companies.

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop making "cost-sharing reduction" payments.

That uncertainty has led the only health insurance company left on Iowa’s exchange to propose a nearly 57 percent rate hike for 2018. Medica originally requested a 43 percent increase. 

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

At a town hall Tuesday in Washington, Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst took several questions about the so-far unsuccessful Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Some questioners asked Sen. Ernst to support "Medicare for all," while others said they want no government involvement in health insurance.

Ernst says bipartisan groups of lawmakers are working on healthcare solutions after "repeal and replace" legislation failed several times in the Senate this year.

doctors office
Jennifer Morrow / flickr

The Iowa Insurance Division is getting close to finalizing its "stopgap" plan to prop up the state’s individual health insurance market under the Affordable Care Act.

An independent economic analysis shows more Iowans will be able to keep their individual ACA health insurance if the federal government approves the state’s stopgap plan.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Recently, four Planned Parenthood clinics in Iowa ended operations. This comes after the Republican-controlled state legislature blocked federal funding to the organization as a way to restrict abortion access. But in addition to abortions, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland provides birth control, STD testing and cancer screenings.

To see if these closings have affected healthcare access in the state, I visited southeast Iowa, where two of the four clinics that recently closed were located.

Indian Helath Service

At least 35 people at the podiatry clinic of the Indian Health Service hospital in Winnebago, Neb., have possibly been exposed to Hepatitis and HIV. An instrument at the IHS clinic, which is near Sioux City, may not have been properly sterilized between patients. 

IHS is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides healthcare to American Indians and Native Alaskans. The Winnebago clinic serves members from the Omaha and Winnebago Tribes of Nebraska who live in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. 

pills and money
Images Money / flickr

Iowans who buy individual health insurance on the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange could see even higher premiums next year if President Donald Trump stops funding subsidies that lower the coverage costs for some patients.

The president has been threatening to stop making cost sharing reduction (CSR) paymentss He may make a decision on CSR this week. 

Medica, the only company still on Iowa’s exchange for 2018, says it will raise premiums if President Trump cuts that funding.

Gage Skidmore

The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is running into roadblocks, so what are the implications for the rest of the GOP agenda?  

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by University of Northern Iowa political science professor Donna Hoffman, as well as University of Iowa associate professor of politics, Tim Hagle.

Although there has been a lot blame passed around for the bill's failure, Hoffman says, "It's a whole congruence of  issues that came together to defeat this."

WIKICOMMONS / Iowahwyman

A nationally recognized gynecologist testified Tuesday at Polk County District Court. Dr. Dan Grossman of California is an expert witness in a trial that questions the constitutionality of new abortion restrictions.

Iowa’s new law requires a woman to have an ultrasound three days before an abortion. Grossman told the court, in some cases, he believes this requirement is "cruel" and "unacceptable."

doug ommen
Iowa Insurance Division

The Iowa Insurance Division announced Thursday it will hold public hearings on its "stopgap" plan to prop up the state's individual insurance market in 2018. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen proposed the plan in June. 

Ommen says he’s working with federal officials to fix some issues in the stopgap plan as they move toward approval.

"We're needing to work very very quickly to move through a process that was designed to take years in order to get approved," Ommen says. 

Today, Senate Republican leaders unveiled a fresh proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

In the first half of today's River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with University of Iowa public health researcher Brian Kaskie about his current work in Washington to aid the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. His work for the committee draws on his expertise in Medicare, Medicaid and caring for the elderly.

CLIC Sargent / Flickr

No one wants to wind up in the hospital, but it's not just the threat of a health crisis that makes us dread a visit. The environment - the stark, sterile, cold, and clinical atmosphere isn't the most pleasant. Hospitals everywhere are trying to change that. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Rodney Dieser, a professor of leisure, youth and human services at the University of Northern Iowa about his research into how the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN has approached making their space more welcoming for families and less stressful for staff. 

Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program's logo
Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program / University of Iowa Health Care

The Regional Autism Assistance Program (RAP) is one of ten programs to recently lose all of its state funding from the Iowa Department of Public Health. For RAP, the $384,552 cut is about 70 percent of its budget.

Advocates worry the budget cut could lead to the loss of the program’s family navigators. They’re stationed throughout the state and connect families to services when children are diagnosed with autism.

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll vote for or against a healthcare bill that would allow insurance companies to limit what they’d pay for certain services.

The Senate Obamacare repeal bill proposes allowing states to redefine which services insurance companies are required to cover. The concern is this could result in dollar limits for things like hospitalizations or prescription drugs.

Grassley says senators are still submitting amendments, so he’s not ready to take a position until he’s seen the final bill.

Flickr / William Patrick Butler

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he probably won’t support an amendment by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill.  Cruz proposes allowing insurance companies to sell two types of healthcare policies, one that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act and one that is not.

Grassley says he’s concerned how Cruz's amendment might affect people with pre-existing conditions. 

Flickr / Raymond Clack

A cut in state funding may cause a nonprofit to end its program of training lay people on how to screen children's vision.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is eliminating $96,000 in annual funding to Prevent Blindness Iowa. In a letter to the organization, IDPH's Bureau Chief of Family Health Marcus Johnson-Miller writes this move is the result of a budget shortfall and is "in no way an indication of poor performance or lack of contract compliance."

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley isn’t putting too much stock in the Congressional Budget Office's report on the Senate’s bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act. 

The CBO says the legislation would result in 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026. It would also decrease the number of Medicaid enrollees by 15 million. 

Grassley points out CBO scores have been incorrect in the past, such as when it underestimated the number of people who would be insured through Obamacare exchanges.  

keokuk county health center
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on its plan to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The bill would cut funding for Medicaid, the program that provides health insurance for children, middle-income people in nursing homes, poor people, and people with disabilities.

Medicaid cuts would make things harder for Iowa’s rural hospitals and could jeopardize access to healthcare for rural residents.

  

Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says she is studying the controversial health care bill unveiled in the Senate yesterday.    

But the freshman Republican is not ready to say whether she’ll vote for the measure that reduces health care benefits for Americans currently on Obamacare, and cuts federal dollars for low-income and disabled Americans.   

“It was just released yesterday,” Ernst said at a statehouse news conference, “so we have 142 pages to go through. I want to make sure that I've had time to go through it, talk to my staff, talk to folks around Iowa.”    

AARP Iowa

On the day Senate Republicans unveiled their plan to revamp the nation’s healthcare system, AARP Iowa is releasing a survey of older Iowans’ attitudes on health policy. The organization is opposed to any plan that would weaken government programs already in place.

Jennifer Morrow / flickr

The health insurance company Medica has decided to sell individual plans on Iowa’s Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018. The announcement came Monday in a news release.

It’s likely Medica will be the only company selling individual ACA-compliant health insurance statewide in Iowa. It’s proposing to increase rates by an average of 43.5 percent.

doug ommen
Iowa Insurance Division

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is urging people to read and comment on a proposal he hopes will keep insurance carriers selling individual policies in the state in 2018.  Two carriers have already said they won’t sell such policies in Iowa next year, and a third is expected to decide soon.  Commissioner Doug Ommen says he hopes to get the federal government’s permission by the end of this month to implement his plan but stresses the government needs to agree on a longer-term heal

doug ommen
Iowa Insurance Division

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is asking the federal government to approve a plan that could keep the state’s individual health insurance market from collapsing. It’s possible the state could have no insurers selling individual plans on the Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018.

Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen says tweaking the ACA could stabilize the state’s individual market and make it more attractive to insurers.

iowa hospital association
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

As the U.S. Senate crafts a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Iowa Hospital Association is emphasizing its opposition to the bill that came out of the U.S. House.

Iowa hospital leaders expressed concerns about proposed cuts to Medicaid funding Wednesday at a news conference in Cedar Rapids. They say cuts would cause problems for patients, hospitals, care providers and the state budget.

Tiffany Terry / Flickr

As a journalist, Mary Otto got interested in access to dental care about ten years ago.

“I was standing at the hospital bedside of this boy. He and his brother were Medicaid beneficiaries, he was in the hospital because he has suffered very serious complications from an infected tooth. It has spread to his brain, and he had two brain surgeries; he was in the hospital for 6 weeks. He died. I wrote about his death and it turned out that there was a lot more to write about this sort of care.”

grassley
Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Sen. Chuck Grassley held his second town hall this week at the Adair County Courthouse in Greenfield. Many attendees were unhappy when Iowa's senior senator wouldn't take a definitive position on issues surrounding Republican lawmakers' goal of repealing Obamacare.

Attendees asked Grassley if he would vote against a bill that would adversely affect people with pre-existing conditions, end essential health benefits, or increase the number of uninsured Americans. Grassley was also asked if he believed access to healthcare was a right.

Brachet Youri

Nearly 200-thousand babies each year are born with clubfoot, which is a congenital condition that causes a baby’s foot to be deformed in a way that the foot is twisted and the sole cannot be placed flat on the ground.

This Saturday marks World Clubfoot Day.  It commemorates the birthday of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, whose treatment method is known as the "gold standard" treatment for clubfoot.

The Ponseti Method is nearly 100 percent effective, and it was developed at the University of Iowa.

Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University

Iowa State University, responding to a growing shortage of registered nurses, has hired Dr. Virginia Wangerin to direct a new nursing education program.  The program will enroll nurses holding associate degrees and graduate them with Bachelor of Nursing degrees.

It will be administered by ISU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, headed by Dr. Ruth MacDonald.

“We were approached by DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College),” said MacDonald.  “There’s increasing demand for the BSN credential.”

pills and money
Images Money / flickr

Iowans will rally in seven cities this weekend to ask for "Medicare for All." 

The rallies will call on the federal government to offer Medicare—the healthcare plan for people over age 65—to all Americans. It's a response to ongoing problems with the affordability of health insurance and efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

rod blum town hall
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Republican Representative Rod Blum was drowned out by constituents Tuesday night as he defended his vote to pass the House GOP healthcare bill at a contentious town hall in Cedar Rapids. 

Several audience members asked the 1st District congressman to explain why he voted for the House Republican plan to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Constituents raised concerns about Medicaid funding, the individual health insurance exchange, Planned Parenthood funding and the tax credits meant to help people buy insurance. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

As the push to replace the Affordable Care Act moves to the Senate, Iowa's senior senator says that chamber will avoid some of the missteps he saw in the House.

Republican Chuck Grassley says the Senate won't bring a healthcare bill to the floor for a vote until 51 members have committed support. He's hopeful that majority will result in a smooth vote, on the first try.

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