The Kentucky General Assembly has wrapped up the first week of the 2015 session, leaving committees with numerous bills to review.

Chairs for the health and welfare committees in both chambers have set their priorities for the remainder of the 30-day session.

Sen. Julie Raque-Adams, a Louisville Republican,  said the committee she chairs will take a critical look at the Medicaid expansion, plus efforts to promote healthy living and protect vulnerable populations.

26 People Have Died of the Flu So Far in Kentucky

Jan 8, 2015

Kentucky health officials say there have been at least 26 flu-related deaths in the state during the current influenza season.

State epidemiologist Dr. Kraig Humbaugh said on Thursday that the fatality rate is rising as the flu becomes more widespread.

“Two of them are pediatric deaths—that’s children under 18 years—five are people that are age 18-64 years and then the rest are age 65 and older,” Humbaugh said. “And of those, actually, eight are over 90 years of age that have been recorded.”

Humbaugh said during the previous flu season, there were about 50 deaths.

Kentucky State Government

The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect last year, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well Being analysis.

During the fourth quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate dropped to 12.9 percent. This is the lowest recorded rate since Galup-Healthways began tracking the measure daily in 2008.

A year ago the uninsured rate was 17.1 percent.

The survey found that the uninsured rate declined as more Americans signed up for health insurance through federal and state health insurance exchanges in the first and second quarters of 2014.

Is Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Jan 7, 2015

The 2015 Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee just released new recommendations to limit added sugars to 10 percent of daily calories. Right now, Americans are eating more sugar than ever before — on average, about 160 pounds a year.

Effort Launched to Raise $1M for Cancer-Screening Van

Jan 7, 2015
The University of Louisville

A new campaign has been launched hoping to raise $1 million for a mobile cancer-screening unit in underserved areas of Kentucky.

Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear announced the effort Tuesday and said Churchill Downs has committed $90,000 and Kroger $25,000 for the van.

The mobile unit will provide free or reduced-cost cancer screenings.

Beshear appeared in Frankfort with representatives of the Kentucky Cancer Program, the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center and KentuckyOne Health.

A portable mammography unit already serves the state with breast cancer screenings. Beshear said the new effort intends to expand the service to screen for six additional forms of cancer.

Beshear's office said the van will focus on cancer prevention education and offer screenings for breast, cervical, colon, lung, prostate, skin and head/neck cancer.

The last thing my 11-year-old does before she goes to sleep is put her iPod on the nightstand. And that could mean less sleep for her, researchers say.

There's plenty of evidence that children who have televisions in their rooms get less sleep. This is one of the first studies to look at whether having a small screen like an iPod or smartphone in the room also affects rest.

Kentucky is Reaching Peak Flu Activity Early

Jan 1, 2015

Six flu-related deaths have happened in Kentucky so far this season, according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The state has been reporting widespread influenza activity for the last four weeks, which means the state has a high or increasing level of the virus.

“Normally it’s January through March in Kentucky when we reach our peak of flu activity. So, we’re reaching that peak a bit earlier this year,” said Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, director of the division of epidemiology and health planning,

Women and their doctors have a hard time figuring out the pluses and minuses of screening mammograms for breast cancer. It doesn't help that there's been fierce dissent over the benefits of screening mammography for women under 50 and for older women.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s Second District Congressman is predicting a major “re-write” of the Affordable Care Act next year.

Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie would have an up-close view of such an effort, as he was named vice-chair of a key House Health Subcommittee Wednesday.

Guthrie says the complicated structure of the federal health law makes it difficult to change certain aspects of the A.C.A without creating unintended consequences elsewhere.

“You hear a lot of people say, ‘let’s keep what we like and fix what we don’t like.’ And there are things that we need as part of our system. We need to make sure that people have health care if they’re sick, and pre-existing conditions don’t push them out of the marketplace.”

But the Bowling Green Republican said adding so many additional Americans to the healthcare system made it impossible for President Obama to keep his pledge that everyone could keep the doctor and health plan that they wanted.

The Congressman also expressed concern about states—like Kentucky—that expanded their Medicaid rolls as part of Obamacare.

A first-of-its-kind collaboration in Kentucky is aimed at detecting lung cancer earlier and increasing survivorship rates.

The $7 million effort announced Wednesday in Frankfort is being funded through a grant made by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.

The effort is called the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative, and is a joint effort between the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky, and the Lung Cancer Alliance. Lung cancer takes an especially heavy toll in the commonwealth, as the state leads the nation in the number of lung cancer cases.

The collaboration will bring together health experts tasked with creating new ways to detect lung cancer at earlier stages in order to increase survivorship. Another goal is to improve the quality of life of lung cancer patients and their caregivers.