Healthcare

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.

John Pemble, Iowa Public Radio

As the plan to replace Obamacare moves from the U.S. House to the Senate, Iowa’s Republican Senator Joni Ernst says it’s becoming increasingly urgent to enact a final bill. She says these are tough times for Iowans who are at risk of losing coverage as companies pull away from providing individual policies through the state’s insurance exchange.

“Knowing that very shortly we could have many families who have absolutely no options for insurance is worrisome, and so we know we have to address it,” she says.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Since 2013, gonorrhea infections have risen 75% in Iowa. To explore why that is the case, in this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with George Walton, STD Program Manager for the Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis for the Iowa Department of Public Health and Emily Wentzell, who is an anthropology professor at the University of Iowa. 

Walton says the reason for the increase include increased testing and encouragement of providers to test patients for infection at multiple places on the body. 

tom miller
Joyce Russell/IPR

Iowa’s attorney general is joining colleagues from several other states in urging the president and congressional leaders to maintain funding for drug treatment in their effort to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The 20 attorneys general say changes to certain ACA provisions could eliminate billions of dollars of funding for drug treatment in the midst of an opioid epidemic.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is holding meetings around the state during the April recess. In a session with farmers, he heard complaints about health insurance premiums and deductibles continuing to climb. Grassley says the recent news that two companies will stop selling individual policies in the state, and the failure to get a new healthcare law signed, also concern him.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Sen. Joni Ernst told constituents in Elkader Monday that health care has been the biggest topic at town hall meetings, and Congress needs to work hard on new health care legislation.

She says she is worried the one remaining statewide health insurance carrier on Iowa's individual market will be free to raise its prices or will also pull out of the state.

Ernst says there is a new plan in the works to replace the Affordable Care Act, and she hopes it is ready before open enrollment starts for 2018.

The Iowa Hospital Association says it’s important not to lose the gains made under the Affordable Care Act. The warning comes after the insurance carriers Aetna and Wellmark announced this week that in 2018, they’ll stop selling individual policies on Iowa’s healthcare exchange created under the ACA.

Iowa will soon have only two insurance carriers providing individual healthcare policies. Connecticut-based Aetna has become the second company this week to announce it will stop selling insurance policies on Iowa’s public exchange in January 2018.

Earlier this week the Iowa Insurance Commission announced that Wellmark would also no longer provide individual plans in Iowa. Wellmark says rising costs are causing its departure. Aetna cites financial risk and an uncertain market outlook for its decision to exit.

wellmark building
Tony Webster / flickr

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is urging customers with individual health insurance policies to stay calm after Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield decided to stop selling individual plans. 

Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said he is disappointed with Wellmark's decision. It affects more than 21,000 Iowans who bought individual Obamacare-compliant plans from Wellmark after the start of 2014. Those customers will have to find a new insurance plan for 2018. 

Congressman Steve King Facebook page

Republican U-S Congressman Steve King will cast the Iowa delegation’s only “yes” vote when the Republican health care bill comes to the House floor  Thursday.  King says he’ll vote in favor of the bill because he has a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove a requirement that all insurance policies provide certain benefits.

rod blum
Rod Blum for Congress

Iowa Republican Representative Rod Blum said Tuesday he will not support the House GOP’s health care plan in its current form.

The 1st District congressman tweeted that the American Health Care Act “doesn’t do enough to lower premiums for hardworking Americans.”

The repeal and replacement of much of Obamacare is supposed to get a vote on the House floor on Thursday. Dozens of Republican House members oppose the bill or have expressed major concerns.

President Trump met with House Republicans Tuesday to urge them to pass the health care bill.

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst fielded several questions about health care today at a town hall-style meeting in Cedar Rapids.

Several questioners among the 1,000 or so people in the auditorium at Coe College pushed her to state her position on the House GOP health care plan.

"I can't say today whether I support it or don't support it," Ernst said. 

Ernst added the plan does not solve all health care issues.

Wikimedia Commons

A new plan for health care in America, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is currently being debated by Congress, would replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

According to the new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, this plan has the potential to make many changes to health care policies in America. While it reduces the federal deficit by $337 billion over 10 years, it's also estimated to leave 24 million Americans uninsured by 2026.

Alex Proimos/flickr

Governor Branstad’s goal to open up more competition in the health care industry ran into some serious trouble at the statehouse Wednesday.   

A bill to clear the way for more for-profit health care facilities failed to clear a Republican-dominated panel.   

The governor wanted to do away with the state’s Certificate of Need program that requires new health care facilities to prove there’s a need for their services.  

Sarah Boden/IPR

Iowa’s Republican lawmakers are a step closer to defunding the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics. A bill to instead fund organizations that don’t provide abortion services passed out of a state senate subcommittee today.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland supporters crammed into the meeting to voice their objection to the legislation. The hallway behind the senate chamber held those who couldn’t fit into the hearing room, with their chants of "Women's Rights! Women's Rights" carrying into the room.

Wikimedia Commons

A repeal of the Affordable Care Act could leave more than 230,000 Iowans, including 25,000 children under the age of 18, without health coverage. That’s according to the Iowa Policy Project. Peter Fisher is research director for the IPP. He says there are two ways the ACA expanded access to care in Iowa.

“About 70,000 people were covered by the Medicaid expansion, and another 47,000 received subsidies for their insurance when they purchased insurance on the exchange. So there are two ways that the ACA insured substantially more Iowans than were previously insured,” he explains.

Sarah Boden/IPR

The Republican-controlled Iowa statehouse aims to limit abortion access by cutting off public funding to Iowa’s 12 Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a reported 26,000 patients.

Lawmakers say they’ll fund sexual and reproductive healthcare services provided by organizations other than Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. But the healthcare organization said in a conference call this morning this will create a vacuum for critical services.

FLICKR / WILLIAM PATRICK BUTLER

Opponents of the privatization of Iowa’s Medicaid system say recent revelations show the program should not be run by for-profit companies. A Des Moines Register report this week revealed the three companies in charge of Iowa Medicaid say they are facing dramatic losses.

When private companies took over Iowa’s Medicaid system in April, many wondered if they could make a profit. The companies claimed profits would come as a result of better management, but now they say underfunding is threatening the program’s stability and that state payments are insufficient.

Mandie/flickr

Women who use legal drugs such as alcohol during pregnancy could be reported for possible child abuse under proposed legislation state lawmakers may be considering in January.   

Currently, mandatory reporters of child abuse must speak up if it appears an infant is born with exposure to illegal drugs. 

However, mandatory reporting does not kick in if the baby is showing signs of withdrawal from other substances.

Wellcome Images

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and producer Emily Woodbury talk with medical providers about how different medical robots work, as well as the pros and cons of working side-by-side with machines to provide patient care.

Robots at the bedside: Telemedicine and the stroke robot

Flickr / Jimmy Emerson, DVM

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission says more than $700,000 in grants will be awarded to 16 healthcare professionals who work in rural Iowa. The grants will be matched by the communities where the recipients are employed.

Danielle Weber is a physical therapist who lives and works in Jefferson, the seat of Greene County. With more than $80,000 in debt she says the grant is like winning the lottery.

She explains that while her tuition at Des Moines University was “not cheap,” salaries in rural communities tend to skew lower.

Emily Woodbury

Andrew Duarte was only 31 years old when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. One of the biggest questions he had was, “What can I expect?”

“And there’s not really a good answer for that,” he says.

Today on Talk of Iowa - living with Parkinson’s disease. Host Charity Nebbe sits down with two Parkinson's patients and a clinical researcher to talk about recent developments in Parkinson’s research and find out what it’s like to live with the disease.

File Photo, House Democratic Caucus

With the privatization of Iowa’s health care program for the poor and disabled set to go into effect tomorrow, state lawmakers Wednesday grilled company representatives and Medicaid managers about the change.    

There was emotional debate in the House about a young cancer patient’s treatment being delayed.        

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Iowa no longer has the only statewide telemedicine abortion network in the country. Today, Maine Family Planning has started providing the service at 16 of its clinics. 

"It was helpful for us to be able to look at another very rural state, not necessary a completely blue state, another state we could relate to and say this can be done," says Maine Family Planning's Jennifer Thibodeau. "It was just inspiring to see another state that we really felt similar to, be able to expand access at a time when other states are really struggling to keep doors open."

Dozens of Iowans begged members of the Iowa Senate Human Resources Committee Wednesday to make sure the state provides extensive oversight of the three healthcare management companies that will soon manage Iowa’s Medicaid system. The federal government says privatization can begin April 1. 

John Pemble/IPR

After months of discussion, out of state for-profit companies now have the go-ahead to take over Iowa’s Medicaid program for the poor and disabled on April 1st.  

The Branstad administration Tuesday received word of approval from the federal government though the date was once again delayed.  

In December, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services delayed implementation from January 1st to March 1st, stating that key requirements on 16 action items were not met, including adequate provider networks to serve Iowa’s more than 500,000  Medicaid patients. 

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