Health

Rand Paul Might Stop An Obamacare Repeal. Here’s How

Jan 6, 2017
MSNBC

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he would not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare, without voting for a replacement plan on the same day. He made the comments on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“Here’s the great irony, this week we’re going to vote on a budget,” he said. “Everybody is hot and heavy to vote on this budget because they want to repeal Obamacare. But the budget they’re going to introduce will add $8.8 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. So I told them look, I’m not going to vote for a budget that never balances.”

Radcliff Veterans Center

The opening day has been set for the new Radcliff Veterans Center.  On Feb. 15, the first three residents will arrive at what’s been designed as a showplace for skilled nursing care for those who have served our country.

Preparations for opening day are in high gear, including a job fair to be held on-site Jan. 5. The Radcliff Veterans Center already has a staff of 49 and it's growing every day. When fully staffed, the center will have 260 employees.

Israel Ray is administrator of the Radcliff Veterans Center. He says, in a way, the opening day will be a welcome home for those first three residents.

Rhonda J Miller

A Kentucky barn dance-style program for military veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury has been approved for a research study at a Connecticut university.

Deborah Denenfeld is a dance educator and leader who launched "Dancing Well: The Soldier Project" five years ago at Fort Knox, and since then has held sessions in Louisville. She said data collectors will survey the veterans on non-medical factors that play an important role in their daily lives.

“We’re going to be looking at measures of optimism and hope, feelings of connectedness, trauma symptoms, and how much people avoid participating in events and projects that have been meaningful to them in the past,” said Denenfeld, who is executive director of Dancing Well.

Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion has led to a dramatic increase in substance abuse treatment services. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has examined substance abuse services covered by Medicaid between 2014 and mid-2016.

 

The group’s report found that Medicaid beneficiaries received 740-percent more treatment services for substance abuse issues over that 30-month period. Before the Affordable Care Act in 2012, about 585-thousand Kentuckians lacked health insurance, and therefore had no coverage for drug and alcohol treatment services.

Louisville VA Medical Center

An offer by the city of Radcliff to donate 50 acres of land for a new Veterans Affairs medical center has apparently been rejected. 

Radcliff Mayor and retired Army Colonel Mike Weaver made a pitch to the VA last week in hopes of snagging the $1 billion veterans medical center that’s expected to bring with it nearly 2,000 jobs. Weaver offered 50 acres in Millpond Business Center off Kentucky Route 313 that already has utilities in place and direct access to Interstate 65.

However, the VA already has plans to replace the aging Robley Rex Medical Center in Louisville with a new complex in the city on Brownsboro Road off the Watterson Expressway. 

The News-Enterprise reports a VA spokesperson said plans are proceeding for the Brownsboro Road site and no other locations are being considered.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and some residents have expressed environmental and traffic concerns about the Jefferson County site.

The VA has published an Environmental Impact Statement on the project, which you can read here. The public comment period runs through Jan. 11. 

Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

To get a glimpse of where Medicaid may be headed after Donald Trump moves into the White House, it may be wise to look to Indiana.

That’s where Seema Verma, Trump’s pick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, comes from. And that’s where she put her stamp on the state’s health care program for the poor.

Verma is a private consultant who was hired by Indiana Governor and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to design a Republican-friendly expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The state paid her almost $5 million over four years through 2017, according to the contracts.

Jeff Young

The Ohio Valley’s opioid epidemic has effects far beyond the individuals struggling through addiction, with families and children suffering as well. An organization that helps children in abuse cases now sees substance abuse as a leading contributor, and could be overwhelmed by the addiction crisis.

Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children --CASA for short-- is a nationwide organization in which community volunteers are designated by judges to serve as the voice for children involved in abuse and neglect cases.


Ft. Knox Army Post

The city of Radcliff is offering free land for a possible Veterans Affairs medical center.

The 50 acre site has all utilities in place and has direct access to Interstate 65. The offer of free land comes from Radcliff Mayor Mike Weaver, a retired Army colonel.

The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise reports land has already been acquired in Louisville near Brownsboro Road and the Watterson Expressway for a new VA hospital.

Kentucky Public Radio

Federal investigators have concluded that a worker crushed to death by a machine at a Kentucky coal mine wasn't wearing an emergency shut-off device, and that his managers had not provided a way to securely attach it.

Citing a U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration report, the Lexington Herald-Leader says managers at Webster County Coal's Dotiki Mine knew about the problem but didn't address it, potentially exposing the company to a higher fine.

Thirty-six-year-old Nathan Phillips was pinned to a wall while trying to move a continuous-mining machine in January. The report said his transmitter, designed to shut off the machine if he got too close, had been on the floor of the mine for about a half-hour before he was killed.

Lisa Gillespie

Vickie Sheehan is one of the lucky ones.

She gained health insurance in 2013 through the Affordable Care Act, buying coverage on the health exchange. Since then, Sheehan has undergone treatment for anal cancer.

“Everyone complained about Obamacare… to me, it saved my life,” Sheehan said.

She still feels that way. But this year, for the first time since the ACA, or Obamacare, was implemented, there are fewer choices for Sheehan and the more than 82,000 Kentuckians who get their insurance on the exchange. Fewer companies are selling insurance to these customers, and the lack of options means higher prices and fewer benefits.

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

At the age of 38, a coal miner named Mackie Branham Jr. was diagnosed with progressive massive fibrosis, a debilitating and terminal form of an illness that was supposed to be a disease of the past — black lung. But Branham is among many miners afflicted by a resurgence in the disease, and officials are just beginning to realize the scope of the problem. A review of health clinic records shows roughly a thousand such cases, many times more than federal officials had thought existed.

Driving into Pike County, Kentucky, the welcome sign tells you that you’ve entered “America’s Energy Capital.” Sheer rock walls line the highway, evidence of a community that’s extremely skilled at cutting through mountains.


Healthcare.gov Enrollment Deadline Extended To Dec. 19

Dec 16, 2016
healthcare.gov

The deadline to sign up for Healthcare.gov coverage has been extended to Monday, Dec. 19 at 11:59 p.m. The federal government made the announcement Thursday night, citing a high volume of people who have left requests to get enrolled.

The deadline is for coverage starting Jan. 1. The final deadline is March 1 for coverage starting April 1. The Affordable Care Act allows for a two-month grace period that consumers can go without health insurance and not receive a tax penalty.

Healthcare.gov

More than 30,000 Kentuckians have signed up for health insurance since the state transitioned to the federal exchange on November 1.  Healthcare.gov replaced the state’s previous insurance portal known as Kynect.  This time last year, more than 27,000 Kentuckians had enrolled in coverage, according to state officials. 

Melissa Grimes works for Community Action of Southern Kentucky, which serves 11 counties.  She oversees the assistors who are trained to help enrollees navigate the online process.  Grimes says it’s taking longer to enroll people under the federal exchange.

Flickr/Creative Commons

More than 8,500 people with expanded Medicaid coverage got breast cancer screenings in May and June of this year. And more people covered under the expansion received dental, diabetes, Hepatitis C and colorectal cancer screenings.

That’s according to a report released Monday by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

In a news release, foundation president and CEO Ben Chandler said one of the benefits of getting more people covered is that they can take advantage of preventive services “that can lead to improved health and lower health care costs in the long run.”

“That positive trend is what we’re seeing in Kentucky in terms of breast and colorectal cancer screenings, preventive dental services and diabetes and Hepatitis C screenings for Kentuckians with low incomes,” Chandler said.

Under the Affordable Care Act, former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear expanded Medicaid in 2014 to childless adults earning up to around $15,000 a year. Gov. Matt Bevin submitted a proposal to the federal government earlier this year to trim back benefits like dental and vision.

Sarah Jane Sanders

Candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. Those are the four basic food groups according to Buddy the Elf. And this time of year, the gluttonous season, it seems like he is onto something.

But researchers say that mindful eating –choosing quality over quantity and savoring your meals instead of, say, plowing through another pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching “Westworld” — can make a difference.

That’s especially important because the Ohio Valley has a serious problem. In Ohio more than a quarter of adults are obese. In Kentucky it’s about a third. And in West Virginia, it’s even higher.

 

“For this exercise let’s just go ahead and close our eyes.” University of Kentucky Professor Dr. Geza Bruckner starts his class on Mindful Eating at Lexington Healing Arts.

There are about 20 people in the class, mostly middle aged women, although there are a few men and, as might be expected, some Birkenstocks are in view. The strain shows on their faces as they try to clear their heads and do what should come naturally: breathe.

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