hospitals

Ozarks Community Hospital

A new study by Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute finds stark differences between states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act and those — like Kansas and Missouri — that haven’t.

Megan Hart / Heartland Health Monitor

Rural hospitals nationwide are facing a host of financial challenges, but states can still take action to keep them open, the head of a rural health group told the Governor’s Rural Health Working Group on Wednesday in Topeka.

Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, said people in urban areas have a few explanations for why rural hospitals are struggling: irreversible population decline in rural areas, low-quality care and bad management practices.

Miguel Calderon / courtesy University Daily Kansan

In July 2017, a Kansas law that permits concealed carry in state hospitals and universities takes effect. We explore the idea of safety in places of healing and learning.

Guests:

  • Reinheld Janzen, Professor Emerita of Art History at Washburn University
  • Miguel Calderon, recent KU graduate
Newman Regional Health

Newman Regional Health will continue to receive Medicare payments after federal officials determined staff at the Emporia hospital had addressed their concerns about policies for patients with mental health issues.

A news release from the hospital Tuesday announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determined Newman had complied with its requirements. In March, CMS had raised the possibility of stopping Medicare payments after a psychiatric patient was discharged too soon in September 2015.

Creative Commons-Pixabay

A study showing that communities that spend less on Medicare don’t necessarily spend less on health care overall is throwing cold water on some long-cherished assumptions about how to reduce the cost of health care.

Courtesy HCA Midwest Health

This story was updated at 8:41 p.m. to include HCA's response.

A Jackson County judge has awarded nearly $434 million to the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City in its long-running lawsuit against HCA Midwest Health over whether HCA fulfilled the pledges it made when it bought several local hospitals in 2003 for more than $1 billion.

The award represents a sweeping victory for the foundation, which was created with proceeds from the sale of the hospitals and argued that HCA reneged on its commitments.

Joe Gratz / Flickr -- Creative Commons

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City is looking at a potential windfall that could add hundreds of millions of dollars to its coffers, vastly expanding the pool of money it has to fund and promote community health programs.

Although legal appeals could delay its receipt of the money for several years, the foundation’s long-running lawsuit against local hospital giant HCA Midwest Health is coming to a head. And court documents show HCA is on the hook to the foundation for at least $319 million and possibly as much as $434 million.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Hospitals aren't typically associated with fine dining. And even though their business is health care, the beverages and foods they offer — especially when the cafeteria is closed — often lean more toward junk food than healthy fare.

But a group of Kansas hospitals is out to change that.

Kansas’ decision to not expand Medicaid is putting health care providers in jeopardy, the head of the state’s largest health system said Wednesday.

Jeff Korsmo, CEO of Wichita-based Via Christi Health, issued a statement calling on Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders to drop their opposition to expanding KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Mercy Hospital Independence

The scheduled closure of the only hospital in the southeast Kansas community of Independence could create new urgency around the Medicaid expansion debate.

Advocates of expanding the Kansas Medicaid program — known as KanCare — say the additional federal money it would generate would help stabilize a growing number of struggling hospitals in the state and might have helped save Mercy Hospital Independence.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you’ve driven down State Line Road just north of 39th Street recently, you’ve seen the bustling construction under way. It’s a multi-million dollar addition to the University of Kansas Hospital that will include new beds, department offices and operating rooms.

And right there in the middle of the humming machinery and hard-hatted workers is Linda Mawby’s house.

Saint Luke's Health System

The families of five patients who died under mysterious circumstances in 2002 at a Chillicothe, Missouri, hospital and whose wrongful death lawsuits were blocked by the Missouri Supreme Court are trying a different legal tack.

They’re asking the high court to allow them to amend the lawsuits so they can sue the hospital and Saint Luke’s Health System, which now runs it, for fraud.

Cody Newill / KCUR

More than 100 nurses and activists gathered outside Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park Friday to protest what they say are unfair work conditions.

According to data provided by the hospital to the nurses, 59 percent of shifts in one of the hospital's surgical units weren't adequately staffed. The protesters also say that Kansas nurses are paid $3 less than the national average wage.

Linda Schall has been a registered nurse for more than 30 years. She says understaffing forces Menorah nurses to work 12-hour shifts without breaks, which can lead to bad practices.

Mark Hillary / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in Kansas are part of an ongoing national conflict over “observational stays” that can leave the facilities and Medicare patients on the hook for uncovered rehabilitation costs after they leave the hospital.

The conflict revolves around Medicare’s “three-day rule,” which requires a person to be admitted to the hospital on an inpatient basis for at least three days in order to qualify for inpatient rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility, covered by Medicare, after they’re discharged.

Only three Kansas City area hospitals received grades of A in the latest hospital safety report card issued by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group founded by large employers that aims to improve hospital quality and safety.

The three — Belton Regional Medical Center, Research Medical Center and Shawnee Mission Medical Center — were among 19 area hospitals surveyed by Leapfrog. Five of the hospitals received grades of B and the rest got C’s.

Wichita-area doctors and hospitals have adopted a pre-surgery checklist designed to make the city’s operating rooms among the safest in the nation.

“If you go to the Hospital Compare website and look at ‘antibiotic prophylaxis ordered’ under ‘procedures and core measures,’ you’ll see that we’re at 99-plus percent,” says Dr. Randall Morgan, an obstetrician and chair of the Wichita Quality Health Collaborative’s Surgical Safety Committee.

Mercy Health / Flickr-CC

Considering a major joint replacement?

If you check into the University of Kansas Hospital, you might be charged more than $115,000. But if you go to Olathe Medical Center just 22 miles down the road, you’re apt to be billed just over $50,000.

Coping with renal failure? At Truman Medical Center, the bill is likely to add up to more than $14,000. But at Research Medical Center, a mere six miles distant, it’s more likely to come to $48,000.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has announced plans to use a bond issue to pay for construction of a new state psychiatric hospital in Fulton.

Fulton State Hospital opened in 1851 and is the oldest state mental hospital west of the Mississippi River. Nixon says the bond issue will be part of his overall state budget request for next year, and that it’s sorely needed to rebuild an aging and sometimes dangerous facility.

“Based on workers’ compensation costs, it’s far more dangerous to work here at Fulton than any Department of Corrections facility,” said Nixon.

A new study shows that the prices private insurers pay to hospitals vary widely. Not only that, they're much higher than what Medicare pays — especially in Kansas City.

The study, done by the non-profit Center for Studying Health System Change, reviewed actual claims paid for more than $500,000 auto workers and their families in 13 Midwestern metropolitan areas.

bigstock.com

Hospitals in Kansas could lose some federal money if the state doesn't expand Medicaid services under the federal health care law. A lawmaker helping to draft the budget says the state needs to consider assisting those hospitals. 

Many hospitals receive payments to help them cover the costs of medical care for the uninsured. They’re known as disproportionate share hospital payments.   As the federal health care law continues, the focus will move to funding more Medicaid services, meaning the current disproportionate share funds could be reduced or completely eliminated.

More hospitals in Missouri are giving away care, and oil and gas companies insist they pay their fair share of taxes in Kansas.  It's a daily digest of headlines from KCUR.