Tag Archives: iowa

University’s decision exacerbates dental care access crisis for Iowa’s poor

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Carl Wycoff via Flickr

Complaining of low reimbursement rates and newly restrictive rules, University of Iowa (UI) officials have announced that the school’s dental college will begin turning away new adult Medicaid patients.

The state’s only dental college will continue to serve the more than 8,000 adult Medicaid patients currently on its roles, but leaders at the dental college said that the school would not routinely accept additional patients covered by Iowa Medicaid’s Dental Wellness Plan. Continue reading

U. Iowa hospitals share patient data with fundraising organization

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Des Moines Register‘s Clark Kauffman opens his investigative report with a simple observation: “University of Iowa Hospitals is giving patient names and specific patient-treatment information to a fundraising organization that solicits donations through written appeals signed by physicians.” Then he backs it up.

Kauffman reports that while universities deny that the practice is questionable, “Patient advocates … say the fundraising seeks to take financial advantage of patients who feel indebted to their doctors for their medical treatment.”

“If people actually knew this sort of thing was going on, there would be a significant number of them disturbed by it,” said Dr. Michael Carome of Public Citizen, a national advocacy group with 80,000 members. “The fundamental practice is exploitative … and in my view there is no way to make this work in a way that would be ethical.”

Hospital spokesman Tom Moore said the fundraising campaign is legal and “completely ethical.” He said the university looked at “best practices” among its peers, and its fundraising practices are in line with those of other hospitals.

Kauffman found that, apparently, these “best practices” include sharing patient contact information, insurance status and appointment schedules with donors without their consent. It also includes routinely seeking patient permission to disclose more specific medical information. And the information flows the other way too, with doctors being notified if one of their upcoming patients is a major donor. Kauffman’s piece describes a fascinating hidden economy.

Iowa air pollution unmonitored, may be dangerous

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Des Moines Register‘s Perry Beeman and Chase Davis investigated air pollution in Iowa, particularly that made up of enough fine particles to come close to violating federal limits.

Beeman and Davis look at the major polluters, new federal pollution limits that are causing a push for increased testing and the possible health consequences of the state’s polluted air (related Q&A). The Register‘s package also includes an impressive interactive map showing major polluters.