Healthcare Roundup—Iowa ER doctors protest Medicaid billing change; Austin hospitals scramble for clean water

A lighted emergency room sign outside of a hospital
A Medicaid billing change in Iowa won't allow emergency rooms to receive full reimbursement for treating some conditions that turn out to be nonemergent. (Getty/MJFelt)

Medicaid billing change in Iowa angers emergency physicians

Iowa emergency room physicians are protesting a Medicaid billing change which began Aug. 1 which won't allow emergency rooms to receive full reimbursement for treating some conditions that turn out to be nonemergent.

For instance, the Associated Press reports, a patient that shows up with a splitting headache will be full covered if it's related to an emergency such as a hemorrhage but would be charged a copay if it turns out to be a migraine. Hospitals would also be reimbursed at lower rates in that scenario.

The Iowa Department of Human Services says hospitals may still seek full reimbursement by submitting justification of why the patient believed an emergency existed, but critics say it could be a deterrent for timely care or result in surprise bills. (The Associated Press)

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Austin hospitals scramble to keep clean water supply in midst of flooding

Hospitals near Austin, Texas, have had to scramble to ensure they have clean water for normal operations following flooding in the region. 

The flooding caused the city to announce a boil-water notice and impacted at least a dozen hospitals, as well as free-standing emergency rooms, urgent care centers and ambulatory surgery centers. (Austin-American Statesman)

Newark hospital found with 'major infection control deficiencies' following death of infant

New Jersey inspectors said they found "major infection control deficiencies" at University Hospital in Newark following the death of an infant in September, New Jersey Advance Media reported. 

The state created a Directed Plan of Correction for the public hospital to address issues including problems with hand hygiene, personal protective equipment and overall cleanliness. The premature baby was in the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and contracted the Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria. The baby died after being transferred to another facility. (New Jersey Advance Media)

New Jersey hospitals' suit against Horizon settled

The final of seven hospitals which sued Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey for allegedly pushing community hospitals out of the healthcare market has settled with the insurer out of court, New Jersey Advance Media reported. 

At issue was a line of insurance products launched in 2015 that offered a 15% discount from its other products and allowed patients to save more money if they used handpicked "tier 1" hospitals—more likely to be dominant facilities or part of a large chain.

The attorney for Valley Hospital in Ridgewood declined to comment on the terms of the deal. Horizon told the news organization it expected to continue working with Valley Hospital and "working together on innovative, value-based programs." (New Jersey Advance Media)

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