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Iowa hospital group reports Medicaid expansion has cut visits by uninsured patients in half


November 13th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A spokesperson for the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) says new data shows the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program is benefiting both hospitals and patients in the state. Scott McIntyre says an I-H-A study compares numbers between January and June of this year and to the same six month period a year ago. “In 2013, we saw about 8,000 patients who were uninsured and in 2014, during the same time period, it was only about 4,000 patients,” McIntyre says.

The IHA supported the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, using federal money provided by the Affordable Care Act. Many states with Republican governors rejected such efforts, but Iowa Governor Terry Branstad agreed to an alternative proposal dubbed the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan. Federal officials granted a waiver for Iowa’s Medicaid expansion plan, which provided more than 100,000 low income Iowans with health care coverage.

McIntyre says the result is Iowa hospitals’ charity care costs fell 18.5 percent, or $32.5 million, in the first six months of this year. “Whenever we see an increase in people being covered, it’s not a surprise to see a decrease in the need for charity care. That helps hospitals be a little more prepared, flexible, and viable in terms of their finances,” McIntyre said. The decrease in charity care costs benefits all Iowans, according to McIntyre.

“Health care isn’t free and when people who aren’t insured come to the hospital and they can’t cover the cost of their care, part of that expense is passed along to people who are insured,” McIntyre said. “So, every time we insure someone, that helps everybody…that improves the situation for the entire state.” The analysis, based on data collected from 101 Iowa hospitals, also found overall inpatient admissions declined 4.4 percent over the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2013.

(Radio Iowa)

State audit finds improvement in money handling procedures for 99 district court clerks


November 13th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A report issued by the State Auditor’s Office finds some issues with oversight and the handling of fees in the county clerks in the district court offices across the state. Deputy State Auditor, Andy Nielson, says the report overall is a positive one. “Every year we do a review of all 99 county clerks of court as required by the Code of Iowa, and while this year there continues to be some comments regarding segregation of duties and some items with other accounting procedures, there has been improvement over the prior year,” according toe Nielson.

One of the ongoing issues is ensuring that the same person that takes in money for fines and fees isn’t the same person who is doing the bookwork and making deposits. Nielson says it’s usually an issue in the more rural counties. “Some of the clerk’s offices only have two or three people in them and it’s very difficult to segregate duties efficiently,” Nielson says. “They are taking steps to utilize other clerk’s offices to for such things as bank reconciliations and things like that.” The clerks can have their counterparts in a nearby county go over the records to ensure everything is being handled properly.

Nielson says it’s also getting easier with the use of electronic records to have a clerk in one county use another county’s employees to check their financial statements without any travel involved. The offices handle the civil, probate, criminal,juvenile, traffic, child support and small claims for the courts. They also collect and deposit and pay out all the fees and other monies for the district court. Nielson says the nature of the operations makes it important to have the proper oversight.

“Whenever there is a lot of cash being transacted as opposed to checks and credit cards, there’s obviously more risk there, and that’s where the segregation of duties is extremely important and that’s why we focus a lot on that,” Nielson says. The clerk of courts offices went through a period where they had reduced staffing and hours due to budget issues, and Nielson says they are now benefiting from more funding.

“I think they’ve been restored to a little bit closer to normal staffing and that will certainly help with the segregation of duties issues,” according to Nielson. Nielson says the State Auditors Office provides training to the clerks in handling these types of issues and it’s good to see fewer problems in this audit.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., Nov. 13th 2014


November 13th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — The city of Council Bluffs and school district are pursuing citywide free wireless Internet services. The school board of the Council Bluffs Community School District approved a partnership agreement with the city Monday. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports the partnership will last for at least five years.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An assistant chief for a tribal police department in Iowa has been fired after making inappropriate comments about the looks of teenage daughters of two subordinate officers. Documents released yesterday show Jason Dunagan, assistant chief of the Meswaki National Police Department, commented “nice belly button ring” and “nice tan” on a Snapchat photograph posted online by a lieutenant’s 16-year-old daughter. Dunagan said Wednesday he saw nothing inappropriate in his comments toward the teenage girls, saying he was friendly on social media with one and didn’t know the other was his colleague’s daughter.

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Mason City man faces multiple charges after police say his car struck three vehicles, including a school bus. The Mason City Globe Gazette reports 23-year-old Eric Sombright was behind a school bus Tuesday morning when his car slid on ice and hit the bus. Sombright is accused of driving around the bus and fleeing the scene.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials say an aging giraffe at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines was euthanized due to health complications. The Des Moines Register reports 21-year-old Shani was euthanized earlier this month.

Atty. for former Shelby Co. physician files to dismiss charges


November 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The attorney for a former Harlan doctor facing sexual abuse charges has filed a motion with the court to have the charges dismissed, because he says the incident occurred outside of Iowa’s statute of limitations. The Daily NonPareil reports Matthew Boles of Des Moines, argued 82-year old Wing Tai Fung‘s legal rights were violated, and was he the subject prejudice because of the sexual abuse allegations.

Fung, of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, was charged May 21 with second-degree sexual abuse, a Class B felony, for an alleged incident in January 1999 – or about 15 years ago. A criminal complaint filed against Fung alleges he molested a 10-year-old girl he was treating for a knee sprain at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan. Chicago police arrested Fung on April 28 at O’Hare Airport after he returned from Canada. He waived his extradition so the case could be tried in Shelby County.

If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison. Fung entered a written not guilty plea in Shelby County District Court in May. He posted his $100,000 bond in April. While the alleged crime occurred 15 years ago, Iowa law states that sex abuse victims have 10 years to report the incident once they turn 18 years of age. The victim turned 18 in Oct. 2006, which is only eight years after the incident.

Boles said Fung, a life-long physician in Harlan, does not remember or have documentation for every patient visit. Boles argued because the of the doctor’s “failing memory,” Fung could not present a defense as guaranteed by both Iowa and U.S. constitutions. In order to dismiss the charge, Boles will have to prove there was an unreasonable delay between the alleged incident and the criminal charge.

KS earthquake reportedly felt in Council Bluffs


November 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

CONWAY SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 that shook parts of Kansas and Oklahoma, Wednesday, was apparently also felt as far away as Omaha and Council Bluffs. The Daily NonPareil reports employees at the paper’s office building felt their chairs shake and watched as a hanging sign in the newsroom swayed without prompting. The Pottawattamie County Courthouse also reported feeling the aftershock. Omaha, Clarinda and Denison residents also said they felt the tremors.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck around 3:40 p.m. Wednesday. It had an epicenter about 8 miles south of Conway Springs, which is a town of about 1,200 people about 30 miles southwest of Wichita. It wasn’t immediately clear how much damage the quake may have caused.

The southern part of Kansas has been experiencing an upsurge in earthquakes this year. A panel commissioned by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback found there wasn’t enough evidence to link the temblors to oil and gas exploration. The panel is recommending more study and the installation of more monitoring stations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency claims the largest reported earthquake in Kansas – a 5.5-magnitude earthquake in 1867 – could be felt in Dubuque.

School board approves Wi-Fi plan in Council Bluffs


November 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — The city of Council Bluffs and school district are pursuing citywide free wireless Internet services. The school board of the Council Bluffs Community School District approved a partnership agreement with the city Monday. The agreement establishes the Council Bluffs Area Wi-Fi Consortium, which will study the feasibility of expanding Wi-Fi around the southwestern Iowa city.

The plan calls for the city and school district to create public Wi-Fi hotspots that can be used by computers, tablets, smartphones and any other Internet-ready device. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil  reports the partnership will last for at least five years.

The City Council also unanimously approved the partnership with the district Monday.

STEP program Nov. 24-30: Officers looking for seat belt violators & more


November 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) and the law enforcement officers across our state wish everyone a safe Thanksgiving holiday. To ensure safety, please take the time to buckle up, slow down and drive defensively in your travels around the state.DPS_2011_150

Those who choose to not buckle up or drive aggressively have a higher chance of being stopped by law enforcement. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, along with local, county, and state law enforcement officers , are once again teaming up through the Special Traffic Enforcement Program (sTEP) during the Thanksgiving holiday to save lives and reduce crashes. Beginning November 24 , 2014 , and running through November 30, 2014, there will be an increased presence of law enforcement officers on Iowa roadways.

Seventy-seven percent of all occupants ejected from a vehicle during a crash are killed. In 2013, Iowa had 317 traffic fatalities with more than 43% of them or 107 not restrained by a seat belt. Randy Hunefeld, sTEP Coordinator with the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, wants you to know that, “Buckling up takes less than three seconds and reduces your chance of becoming a fatality statistic by nearly 50%.” Is it worth it? Hunefeld says, “You can bet your life on it.”

For additional information , go to www.iowagtsb.org or www .nhtsa .dot.gov.

Thefts reported in Creston


November 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Police in Creston say two residents have reported incidents of theft. Tuesday evening, a resident on Ivy Avenue in Creston, reported that sometime between Sunday and Monday, someone took a 2009 54-inch Toro zero turn mower from her residence. The mower was valued at $2,000.

And, on Nov. 3rd, another Creston resident reported that sometime over the previous day,  someone entered her farm building on Quail Avenue and took several items, including: A 2011 Yamaha Grizzly 450; An EarthQuake post hole digger; A small bottle torch in yellow carrying case; A box winch for truck bed bale stabber; A 110 wire feed welder; A blue 2012 Chicago 5500 13 hp generator; A Central Pneumatic 21 gallon, 2.5 hp, 125 psi air compressor; An Echo SRM 210 weed eater; A Stihl chainsaw;  2 bolt cutters (1 grey, 1 red); A new, black, 2 wheel trailer dolly; A torch head and hoses; A grill propane bottle; A single tree stand; A log chain; Deer antlers, and miscellaneous tools. The loss was estimated at a little more than $11,320.

2015 “Excellence in Agriculture” Scholarship Applications Now Available

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

(RALSTON, Iowa) Nov. 12, 2014 —High school seniors pursuing a career in agriculture or an ag-related field are invited to apply for the West Central® Cooperative’s 2014 Excellence in Agriculture scholarship.West Central Co-Op logoWest Central Co-Op logo West Central CoOp logoThe Excellence In Agriculture scholarship program awards four $1,500 scholarships for any accredited post-secondary program. Applications are available at any West Central location, from area high school guidance counselors, or online at west-central.com

Scholarship Requirements:

1. Applicant and/or parent must be a voting member, in good standing, of West Central.

2. Applicant must be a high school senior and graduate in the spring of the 2013-2014 school year.

3. Applicant must have a cumulative high school GPA of 2.5 or better on a 4.0 scale through his/her junior year.

4. Applicant must pursue a career in agriculture or enter an ag-related field of study at any accredited post-secondary school of his or her choice.

5. Dependents of directors and officers of West Central are not eligible to apply for these scholarships.

Applications must be returned by Jan. 30, 2015. If you have questions regarding West Central’s Excellence In Agriculture scholarship program, please contact Alicia Clancy, Director of Communications, at (712) 667-3334.

About West Central

West Central is a farmer-owned cooperative connecting producers of agricultural products to a global network of processors and end-users. Headquartered in Ralston, Iowa, West Central’s agronomy, animal nutrition and grain businesses span 12 Iowa counties with 27 locations. In 2013, the company was ranked #41 on the USDA’s list for largest farmer-owned cooperatives nationwide based on revenues and assets.


(Podcast) 8-a.m. KJAN News, 11/12/2014

News, Podcasts

November 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With Ric Hanson.