Health

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.

Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health News

For Freida Lockaby, an unemployed 56-year-old woman who lives with her dog in an aging mobile home in Manchester, Ky., one of America's poorest places, the Affordable Care Act was life altering.

The law allowed Kentucky to expand Medicaid in 2014 and made Lockaby – along with 440,000 other low-income state residents – newly eligible for free health care under the state-federal insurance program. Enrollment gave Lockaby her first insurance in 11 years.

"It's been a godsend to me," said the former Ohio school custodian who moved to Kentucky a decade ago.

Lockaby finally got treated for a thyroid disorder that had left her so exhausted she'd almost taken root in her living room chair. Cataract surgery let her see clearly again. A carpal tunnel operation on her left hand eased her pain and helped her sleep better. Daily medications brought her high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol level under control.

Report: More ER Patients Now Paying With Medicaid

Nov 18, 2016
Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital

The number of emergency room visits in Kentucky hasn’t gone up much since Medicaid expanded or people started getting coverage on the individual market. That’s according to a new report from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Before the Medicaid expansion, many uninsured Kentuckians were going to the emergency room instead of a primary care doctor for non-emergency treatment because they could not be turned away.

Now, more of them have Medicaid coverage, but they’re using the coverage for the same type of ER visit. The percentage of people in the emergency room with Medicaid coverage did increase quite a bit by 2015, with almost half  covered by Medicaid. That’s up from 30 percent in 2012.

Friends of Sinners

A faith-based addiction recovery program in Owensboro broke ground on a new residence for women this week. 

The new facility being built by the group “Friends of Sinners” is in response to a growing demand in the region.

Friends of Sinners Executive Director Joe Welsh says the group already operates five residential sites for men and women in Daviess County.  He says there’s been a trend since the group opened its first women’s residence in 2011.

“One of the things that we’ve noticed in Owensboro, in Daviess County, is that there’s a big need for beds for women. We just wanted to target that and try to increase the number of beds Owensboro has for ladies.”

The new residence will house 12 women when it opens next summer. It’s one definite, but small, step in confronting Kentucky’s drug addiction crisis that kills about 1,000 people in the state each year. That crisis is reflected in communities across the state.

Friends of Sinners was formed in 2009 and has  served about 500 men and women since its inception. Welsh says the five residential treatment centers currently have a total of 40 residents and the waiting list for the program is longer than ever.                

“Locally and statewide, Kentucky is doing a great job making a stand against this and fighting against this, and we are proud to be part of that,” said Welsh. “But at the end of the day, we are fighting a fight that is an extremely hard fight and substance abuse isn’t going away.”

The beginning of construction on the new treatment facility in Owensboro comes in the same week the U.S. Surgeon General estimates that 20 million people in the U.S. are living with a substance abuse disorder.

Creative Commons

Consumer advocates are advising people to not buy into the name “multi-state” plan when shopping for individual market health insurance for next year because the plans don’t necessarily offer coverage across state lines.

Susan McConkey, a health insurance broker, said many consumers assume “multi-state” means coverage across state lines at in-network prices. But that isn’t true in most states, including Kentucky.

“They think they can use it in any state, and that’s not the case,” McConkey said.

The Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. was assigned the task of getting insurers to offer these plans because of the agency’s experience managing federal employee health insurance.

Beth Hadley is in charge of multi-state plans at OPM. She acknowledged that the name is misleading, and said the agency is considering changing the name.

Pinterest

Kentucky has earned the unhealthy distinction of being the fifth “fattest” state in the U.S.  

A report from the consumer website WalletHub shows that only Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and South Carolina have a higher percentage of obese or overweight residents than Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State ranks second in the nation for the number of residents with high cholesterol, fourth for diabetes, and fifth for high blood pressure.

Bonnie Hackbarth is a spokeswoman for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. She says creating a healthier state starts with consistent health care.

“Part of the answer in improving Kentucky’s health is getting more Kentuckians insured, so that they’ll take advantage of the kind of preventive services that will improve our health overall.”

healthcare.gov

Sharon Bush spent 30 minutes on Tuesday helping a client sign up for an email account. The email address is a necessary step in signing up for health insurance through Healthcare.gov.

Bush didn’t realized that the email requirement for the federal exchange would take up so much time.

“In southeastern Kentucky, there are a lot of people who don’t have and/or use technology,” Bush said. “[The client] is a grandmother in her early 60s, and she just said, ‘I have two granddaughters and they use it a lot.’”

Bush works in Manchester, Kentucky, at Grace Community Health Center, where she helps people sign up for health insurance. She’s a former Kynector, a person paid by the state to assist people with enrollment. She helped people last year find health insurance through Kynect and is now helping people sign up on the federal exchange at Healthcare.gov.

In early October, Gov. Matt Bevin was given approval by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to dismantle the state-based insurance portal, Kynect, leaving Kentuckians searching for insurance to go through the federal portal, Healthcare.gov.

Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy

Kentucky is taking a new step to stop the recent increase of opioid overdose deaths.

A new website allows a person to enter a city or ZIP code and quickly find a pharmacy that has the life-saving drug naloxone, often sold under the name Narcan, that can reverse the effects of an opiod overdose.

The website www.KyStopOverdoses.ky.gov was launched on Nov. 2. 

Van Ingram is executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. He says the website is something requested by many families in the state.

“I’ve heard from a number of parents of a young person with an opioid use disorder and heard their frustrations in not being able to find it, and going around from drugstore to drugstore and places not carrying it.”

Families desperate to get help for loved ones with an opioid addiction now have a new way to buy time while hoping for a recovery.

"We needed to provide people a resource where they can quickly and easily find where naloxone is available in their communities,” said Ingram.

Centerstone

Seven Counties Services, Inc. is no more.

The mental health provider announced Monday that it officially merged with not-for-profit Tennessee-based Centerstone and will now be known as Centerstone of Kentucky.

For the coming months, patients won’t see any changes. But in the next two years, Centerstone plans to expand services and do more research.

Centerstone, which started in 1991, offers mental health services in Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana and now Kentucky. Starting Tuesday, Tony Zipple, president and CEO of Seven Counties, will become CEO of Centerstone of Kentucky.

Zipple said the merger means the local provider will have more resources for services like setting up “health homes” for people with serious mental health and medical conditions.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Kentuckians wanting to buy health insurance on the federal exchange will have fewer options and higher costs.

Starting Tuesday, enrollees will apply for coverage at www.healthcare.gov instead of the state-based exchange known as Kynect.  Anthem will be the only insurance provider, and the company will offer customers four plans.

Tonya Wooton works for Community Action of Southern Kentucky, and helps enrollees navigate the online application process. She says while premium increases are expected, they should be offset by subsidies.

"People also need to understand that if premiums increase and you're getting payment assistance, then you're payment assistance is also going to increase, so you may not feel it as much as you think you will," Wooton told WKU Public Radio.

Discounts and payment assistance are based on income.

Republican Governor Matt Bevin’s administration says the Affordable Care Act has caused insurers to pull out of exchange markets across the country, with those that stayed offering higher rates.

Open enrollment on the federal exchange is November 1-January 31, 2017.  Consumers must enroll in a plan by December 15 if they want coverage to begin January 1.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Kentuckians trying to get health insurance through the state-based marketplace will use healthcare.gov instead of Kynect starting Nov. 1.

Personal information of those who previously used Kynect to get insurance will not be transferred to the federal platform, so consumers will have to reapply on the federal website.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration says the move will save the state about $10 million per year in operating costs.

“Health insurance is a vital piece of maintaining health and well-being,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson in a statement. “We want to make sure Kentuckians interested in purchasing a qualified health plan know where to shop. Anyone with questions or who encounters difficulty with enrollment is encouraged to contact a call center for assistance.”

Creative Commons/Joshua Allen

Daviess County doctors are treating as many as 500 patients who are suffering from a once-rare allergy.

Alpha-gal syndrome is spread through tick bites, and leads to allergic reactions after the eating of red meat.

Physicians at Owensboro’s Allergy and Asthma Specialists are seeing an explosion in the number of people diagnosed with the allergy.

Physician assistant Caitlyn Renaud says Alpha-gal is different from a regular allergy because of its delayed reaction time.

“People had dinner at, like, 7 o’clock at night and they ate a steak or cheeseburger. And they would wake up in the middle of the night with swelling, hives, and itching,” she said.  

Other symptoms of Alpha-gal syndrome include abdominal cramping and vomiting.

The allergy especially prevalent in the south-east because of the number of ticks found in the region.

Kentuckians in more than half of all counties who buy insurance through HealthCare.gov next year will have a much more limited choice of doctors and hospitals.

That’s because the only insurer left in Kentucky offering exchange plans in all 120 counties — Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield — will only offer an HMO plan in 74 of those counties starting Jan. 1.

Webmd.com

Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency are partnering together in an effort to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.

Take Back locations will be set up at fifteen K-S-P posts this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Trooper Josh Brashears, a public affairs officer with the state police, says the Take Back initiative has led to the destruction of thousands of pounds of drugs across the state.

“We do it semi-annually. We did one in April of this year, and it netted about 1,010 pounds of prescription drugs,” Brashears said.

Nearly 10,000 pounds of medicine has been collected since the program began in 2010.

All solid dosage pharmaceutical products and liquids in containers will be accepted at the Take Back locations across the state.

Pages