health

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday that would do away with the law’s major reforms, including the requirement to have health insurance or pay a penalty and the ban on insurers refusing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

Under the proposal, people wouldn’t be required to get health insurance, nor would employers be required to offer it. Instead, groups of people and small employers could come together to form “independent health pools” to negotiate rates.

Federal Judge Blocks Humana-Aetna Merger

Jan 23, 2017
Stephen George

Humana and Aetna won’t be allowed to merge, according to a ruling from a federal judge out on Monday. Antitrust and competition issues were cited.

The companies will likely appeal the ruling, handed down from Washington, D.C. District Court Judge John Bates. An appeal could take another six months to a year.

Tom Noland, spokesperson for Humana, said the company was prepared for this outcome and is still reviewing the 153-page decision. He also noted that whatever the final outcome, Humana will continue as a company.

“The fact that we have millions of members, most of whom renew every year, shows that we do great work,” Noland said.

Stopping Superbugs: A New Farm Rule Targets Antibiotic Resistance

Jan 23, 2017
Nicole Erwin

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control offers a stark example of the declining power of medicine’s most important weapons against infectious disease. The CDC noted that a patient who died at a Nevada hospital last year had an infection that was resistant to 26 different antibiotic treatments. That’s essentially the entire antibiotic arsenal doctors had.

There’s an antibiotic problem in the U.S. Some just aren’t working anymore as resistant bacteria, so-called “superbugs,” are growing. Part of the problem lies with farms, where massive amounts of antibiotics have been used on livestock, including animals that aren’t even sick.


J. Tyler Franklin

At about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Republicans moved one step closer to repealing a law they have railed against since the moment it was passed nearly seven years ago.

By a final vote of 51-48, the Senate approved a budget resolution that sets the stage for broad swaths of the Affordable Care Act to be repealed through a process known as budget reconciliation. The resolution now goes to the House, where leaders are hoping to approve it by the end of the week.

The powerful tool sets up a fast track for repealing large parts of Barack Obama's major domestic achievement; the best guess is that the Senate is still several weeks away from largely repealing Obamacare. But as the process continues, large questions still loom over how — and when – Republicans will replace the healthcare law.

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Whether health insurers Aetna and Humana can merge will likely soon be decided, and the outcome might just have an impact on the price you pay at the doctor’s office.

A new study from researchers at Harvard shows what could happen to the amount policyholders have to pay for a doctor’s visit.

The findings, published in Health Affairs, show that the lower prices consumers pay shopping wholesale — for example, at Costco — also apply to health care. Insurance companies with more buying power – through having more policyholders – pay lower prices for health care services. For instance, insurers with more than 15 percent of a market population paid the least amount for an office visit: $70. That increased to $88 for an insurer with less than 5 percent of marketshare.

Six Lesser-Known Obamacare Provisions That Could Evaporate

Jan 11, 2017
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The outcome of the repeal-and-replace Obamacare debate could affect more than you might think, depending on just how the GOP congressional majority pursues its goal.

Beyond the Affordable Care Act's marquee achievements like guaranteeing health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on parents' plans until age 26, the roughly 2,000-page law created a host of other provisions that affect the health of nearly every American.

Some of these measures are evident every day. Some enjoy broad support, even though people often don't always realize they spring from the statute.

Creative Commons

Health officials in Lexington and Louisville are urging people who haven't gotten flu shots to get vaccinated.

A statement from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department says two recent flu-related deaths have been reported. In Louisville, health officials are reported a spike in the number of flu cases. Both agencies sent an appeal urging people to get vaccinated as flu season ramps up. It typically peaks in late January or early February.

In Fayette County, officials say there have been at least 13 confirmed cases of the flu. In Louisville, officials say there have been 20 cases confirmed in less than two weeks compared to eight cases in the preceding seven weeks.

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.”

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.


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.

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.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Republicans in Congress say they'll vote to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act early next year — even though they don't yet have a plan to replace it.

But they also insist that they don't want to harm any of the millions of people who got their health insurance under the law.

The lawmakers' strategy? Vote to repeal, and fulfill their top campaign pledge. But delay the changes, and keep running Obamacare for as long as two years while they figure out how to fill the hole they'll create in the insurance market.

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.

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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.

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