health

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A new report shows Kentucky falling down a ranking of states with the best women’s and children’s health.

The America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report lists Kentucky at 42, down eight spots since 2016, when the report was last issued.

Dr. Deneen Vojta is a pediatrician and Executive Vice President of Enterprise Research and Development with United Health Group, which issued the report.

Kentucky Lawmakers Begin Review of Medical Marijuana Bill

Mar 6, 2018
Dank Depot/Creative Commons

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky made their case to a legislative panel Monday, touting it as a safe alternative to highly addictive opioid painkillers.

The bill heard by the House Judiciary Committee would strictly regulate the introduction of medical cannabis, and would leave it up to cities or counties whether to allow it. The panel took no vote on the measure, and its chairman said the bill would come up again later.

After Virginia Harrod was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2014, she had a double mastectomy. Surgeons also removed 16 lymph nodes from under her armpit and the area around her breast, to see how far the cancer had spread and to determine what further treatment might be needed. Then she underwent radiation therapy.

Michael Sullivan/Getty Images/Science Source

Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say they’ve identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported, a cluster that was first uncovered by NPR 14 months ago.

In a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, NIOSH confirms 416 cases of progressive massive fibrosis or complicated black lung in three clinics in central Appalachia from 2013 to 2017.

Creative Commons/Dental Supply

Dentist Garth Bobrowski gives away thousands of dollars in free dental care for patients who can’t afford it in his small town of Greensburg, Kentucky.

“Dentists serve patients in their communities in these rural towns because these folks are our folks. We go to church with them, we go to school with them,” Bobrowski said. “So we do it as a service to the community.”


As the Trump administration moves to give states more flexibility in running Medicaid, advocates for the poor are keeping a close eye on Indiana to see whether such conservative ideas improve or harm care.

Indiana in 2015 implemented some of the most radical changes seen to the state-federal program that covers nearly 1 in 4 low-income Americans — including charging some adults a monthly premium and locking out for six months some of those who don't pay their premiums.

Mary Meehan

Remember the American Health Care Act, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or the Obamacare Repeal and Reconciliation Act? They were among the many Congressional proposals to end the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

If 2017 was the year of endless Obamacare debates, 2018 could be the year when we see the effects on people who need health care the most. Some health experts in the Ohio Valley are concerned that the “forgotten” folks in rural America could lose access to basic health care as efforts continue to weaken the Affordable Care Act.


Which Kentucky Counties Benefited Most Under Medicaid Expansion? Here’s A Map

Jan 19, 2018
Alexandra Kanik

Starting this July, Kentucky will start making some Medicaid enrollees work, volunteer, take classes or train for jobs in order to keep health care coverage. Last week, the federal government approved the long-awaited Medicaid waiver that Governor Matt Bevin submitted in the summer of 2015.

The waiver includes several changes to Medicaid, and the bulk of these changes will affect people who received coverage under the expansion of the program made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how many people in each of Kentucky’s counties fall into that group:

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The federal government has approved most of Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program.

Bevin’s proposal includes requiring many of the state’s Medicaid enrollees to perform some kind of “community engagement” — work, volunteer service, job training or education. The federal government paved the way for the approval on Thursday, when it announced it would allow work requirements as a condition for Medicaid coverage.

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Kentuckians with certain medical conditions would be able to get a prescription for cannabis under a bill filed by two Democratic lawmakers and promoted by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The 65-page bill would make it legal to smoke, ingest or grow cannabis — the scientific name for marijuana — with a prescription and would be regulated by the state agency that deals with alcohol production and sales.

Mary Meehan

A small gaggle of reporters points their microphones at reproductive rights activist Marcie Crim as she bluntly decries  the shrinking access to abortion in the region. Crim stands just a few feet from the open door of the office of Governor Matt Bevin near the Capitol rotunda.

Crim and Bevin may be physically close in this situation, but they could not be further apart on the issue. They personify the opposing poles of the decades-old debate surrounding abortion.

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The Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget has announced a review of an Obama-era rule that protects coal miners from exposure to the dust that causes black lung disease.

That has some health and safety advocates concerned. The review comes amid a tide of regulatory rollbacks by the Trump administration and at a time that black lung disease is on the rise in Appalachian coal country.


Survey Finds Teen Use Of Opioids Declining

Dec 17, 2017
Mary Meehan

A survey produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found a rare bit of good news about the opioid crisis: fewer teenagers reported using opioids outside of medical purposes.

The Monitoring the Future Survey 2017 results show a continued trend in decreased misuse of opioids by teens that dates to the early 2000s.

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Law professor Philip Alston is a United Nations expert on extreme poverty. In his position as a U.N. Special Rapporteur  he reports on places where pervasive poverty and human rights issues intersect, places such as Haiti, south Asia and central Africa. His latest work, however, is taking him to parts of the U.S., including the Ohio Valley.

“The United States has been very keen for me and others to investigate human rights issues in other countries, which I have done,” Alston said. “Now, it's the turn to look at what's going on in the U.S. There are pretty extreme levels of poverty in the United States given the wealth of the country. And that does have significant human rights implications.”

Having failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress is now working on a tax overhaul. But it turns out the tax bills in the House and Senate also aim to reshape health care.

Here are five ways the tax legislation could change health policy:

1. Repeal the requirement for most people to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty

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