health

Flickr/Creative Commons/Ed Schipul

Kentucky smokers now have greater access to resources that can help them kick the habit.

A new state law now in effect requires insurance coverage of all forms of tobacco cessation services recommended by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. That includes smoking and tobacco-use cessation counseling, group health education, and federally approved anti-smoking medications.

Adam Haley, Director of Public Policy for the Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, says the changes present a great opportunity for more smokers to get help.

Medicaid Changes Could Save Money; Others to Lose Benefits

Jul 4, 2017
Creative Commons

Proposed changes to Kentucky's Medicaid program could cost another 9,000 vulnerable people their health coverage while possibly saving taxpayers an extra $27 million.

Those are both projections for Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's updated plan to overhaul the state's Medicaid program, the joint federal and state health coverage program for the poor and the disabled.

Bevin asked the federal government last year for permission to overhaul the program. Monday, Bevin updated that proposal. State officials estimate the changes would increase taxpayer savings to $358 million by 2021. But it means a total of 95,000 people —9,000 more than originally proposed_would likely lose their Medicaid coverage in a mostly poor, rural state where more than a quarter of the population relies on the taxpayer-funded program to pay for their health care.

NPR

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected President Donald Trump’s advice to nix the GOP’s complex health care proposal in favor of a bill that would simply get rid of “Obamacare” once and for all.

McConnell told reporters after an event Friday in his home state of Kentucky that the Republican health care bill remains challenging but “we are going to stick with that path” in response to a question about the president’s tweet. Former President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, and Republicans have been trying to get rid of it ever since.

In late May, several senators went to the floor of the Senate to talk about people in their states who are affected by the opioid crisis. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., talked about Chelsea Carter.

"She told me her drug habit began when she was 12 years old," said Capito.

Wikimedia Commons

The prospects of the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act are a moving target.

Less than a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed a vote on the bill, the Washington Post is reporting that McConnell wants to send a revised version to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office by the end of this week.

The CBO’s score of the Senate proposal — which the agency said would result in 22 million people losing health insurance over the next decade — pushed some more moderate Republican senators to oppose the bill.

Bevin Reluctantly Supports Senate Health Care Overhaul

Jun 27, 2017
Alix Mattingly

Kentucky’s Republican governor said he reluctantly supports the Senate’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and blamed its shaky prospects for passage on “mushy moderates” who “don’t have enough spine” to pass the bill.

Kentucky was one of 31 states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It did so under a previous Democratic governor who supported the law. The expansion added another 400,000 people to Kentucky’s Medicaid program, causing the state to have among the largest coverage gains in the country.

Updated at 8:10 pm ET

Congressional forecasters say a Senate bill that aims to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026.

That's only slightly fewer uninsured than a version passed by the House in May.

J. Tyler Franklin

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has unveiled the newest version of a bill to replace many provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Negotiations over the much-anticipated bill were held in private, with even some Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul criticizing the secretive process “with little time to fully evaluate the proposal.”

Paul issued a statement Thursday saying he wasn’t ready to vote in favor of the new bill because it doesn’t fully repeal Obamacare.

Mary Meehan

Dressed in crisp blue scrubs, Certified Nurse Midwife JoAnne Burris walks briskly, the click of her sensible clogs a counterpoint to smooth jazz in the hall.

The University of Kentucky Midwife Clinic, with its large, color prints of newborns on earth-tone walls, still has that new furniture smell. But word-of-mouth already has the waiting room full.

Inside Exam Room 3 Emily and Johnathan Robertson wait to hear their baby’s heartbeat. And there it is, the echoing sound of a strong fetal heart: Whoosh, ump, whoosh, ump, whoosh ump.

“Best part of the appointment,” Burris said, “every time.”

flickr creative commons Chris Potter

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced on Wednesday that he is working with attorneys general from across the country to investigate whether drug manufacturers contributed to the opioid epidemic “by illegally marketing and selling opioids,” according to his office.

The action follows a suit filed in May by Ohio’s attorney general.

In Kentucky, there were more than 1,248 overdose deaths in the first half of 2016, a 25 percent increase from 2014.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is slamming efforts led by Senate Majority Leader and fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 

Paul said he won’t know how he will vote until the bill is released to legislators on Thursday, but he anticipates that McConnell won’t have the votes and will have to renegotiate the legislation with members of his own party.

GOP's Health Care Rollback Collides with the Opioid Epidemic

Jun 20, 2017
Flickr/Creative Commons/Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

The Republican campaign to roll back former President Barack Obama's health care law is colliding with the opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties.

The central issue is that the House health care bill would phase out expanded Medicaid, which allows states to provide federally backed insurance to low-income adults previously not eligible. Many people in that demographic are in their 20s and 30s and dealing with opioid addiction. Dollars from Washington have allowed states to boost their response to the crisis, paying for medication, counseling, therapy and other services.

Mary Meehan

The coordinator of a needle exchange program in Bowling Green is hoping other southern Kentucky counties will start similar efforts.

The Barren River District Health Department started the anonymous needle exchange program nine months ago in hopes of combating the spread of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis-C.

From January 2014 to April 2016, the region saw more than 600 cases of Hepatitis-C. The health department’s Public Health Services Coordinator, Chip Krause, says it’s too early to know if the district has seen a decrease in the spread of disease, but he says those who use the needle exchange program are five times more likely to enter a treatment program.

public domain

Kentucky and other Medicaid expansion states are seeing an increase in overall emergency room visits.

Still, fewer uninsured people are going to the ER under the Affordable Care Act.

In 2014, states with expanded Medicaid access saw an 8.8 percent increase in the share of ER visits covered by Medicaid, according to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. The share of visits by those without insurance decreased by 5.3 percent. Those with private insurance remained the same in expansion states.

Creative Commons

Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth is asking the federal Department of Health and Human Services for an update on Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s Medicaid expansion changes.

Yarmuth wrote the letter Thursday.

Last August, Bevin proposed several changes for Kentuckians on Medicaid — both those that got their insurance through the Medicaid expansion and make up to 138 percent of the poverty level, and traditional Medicaid enrollees, which includes people living in poverty.

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