health

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A Kentucky doctor wants to improve the overall health of the state by increasing the tobacco tax.

Dr. Patrick Withrow, a retired cardiologist and the Director of Outreach at Baptist Health Paducah, believes that raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes by one dollar could help reduce smoking in adolescents, pregnant women, and low-income populations.

“This is an opportunity to kill several birds with one stone,” Dr. Withrow told WKU Public Radio. “And baby steps are important. If we can’t get all we want, we at least need to start. The most important reason we do this for is the health of Kentuckians.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Paramedics and police are already in the hotel room when Kyle Simpson walks in.

“What happened?” he asks.

A 37-year-old man in the room is barely conscious--just revived by the overdose reversal medication NARCAN.

Law enforcement officers survey the scene. They’ve found more heroin “rocks” on a table. One officer interviews a crying woman who was with the man when he stopped breathing.


Mary Meehan

The church choir in bright blue robes swayed and testified on a hot summer Sunday.

Pastor Anthony Everett, in his own robe of orange and brown, preached to his “saints” of Wesley United Methodist Church and they called back their approval with a staggered chorus of “Amen!”

But this Sunday, Memory Sunday, was different. Half way through the high-energy service was a quiet call to remember families coping with Alzheimer’s disease. From the pulpit came a call for the names of the suffering and after a brief silence, the response rolled through the pews.


A White House commission released a report this week on America's opioid crisis with an urgent recommendation — that President Trump declare it a national emergency.

Updated 4:21 p.m. ET Aug. 1

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced today that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will hold bipartisan hearings on ways to stabilize the Affordable Care Act marketplaces for 2018.

The hearings will start the week of Sept. 4. Their aim is to act by Sept. 27, when insurers must sign contracts to sell individual insurance plans on HealthCare.gov for 2018.

Lisa Gillespie

Kentucky has the nation’s highest rate of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. But managing the disease and interpreting symptoms is often a challenge for people who suffer from the lung disease.

Enter a new smartphone app that aims to use technology to help COPD sufferers to recognize emergencies, and avoid unnecessary doctors’ or ER visits. The app made its debut earlier today, screening people at the Family Community Clinic in Butchertown.

One of the first testers was Barry. When he walked through the door at the clinic, he had already been diagnosed with COPD. We’re only using his first name to protect his privacy.

NPR

Nicotine will now be at the center of the Food and Drug Administration’s effort to regulate tobacco, the agency said, announcing that it will aim to lower the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to a level that will help curb addiction.

It would be the first time in the agency’s history that it has sought to regulate the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.

“The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes – the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Friday. “Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says he’s “thrilled’ that three Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted against the latest attempt to repeal elements of the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats and three Republican senators — John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — voted against the “skinny repeal” bill, dramatically preventing supporters from securing the 50 votes needed to pass it.

Beshear called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for leading the charge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Betting that thin is in — and might be the only way forward — Senate Republicans are eyeing a "skinny repeal" that would roll back an unpopular portion of the federal health law. But health policy analysts warn that the idea has been tried before, and with little success.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., returned to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday after a brain cancer diagnosis to help Republican leadership begin debate on health care. But after casting his vote in favor of debate, McCain took the floor and said he would not vote for the current health bill, the latest product of a controversial and contentious process in which Republicans have been at odds with one another as well as with Democrats.

NPR

With Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie, the U.S. Senate voted by a hair Tuesday to start debating Republican legislation to tear down much of the Affordable Care Act.

The vote gives President Donald Trump and GOP leaders a crucial initial victory but launches a weeklong debate promising an uncertain final outcome.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said after the vote that the Senate will now begin considering amendments from both parties.

Healthy Debate: What The Republican Health Bill Taught Us About Medicaid

Jul 24, 2017
Mary Meehan

It’s hard to find a spot on the map where the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have a bigger effect than in the Ohio Valley. By one measure, for example, the proposal could mean West Virginia’s rate of people who lack health insurance would climb by nearly 300 percent -- the biggest such change in the country. The projected declines in Kentucky and Ohio are also more than twice the national average. This is largely due to proposed changes in Medicaid.

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Owensboro Health is beginning a new partnership with the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. It will focus on sharing research and resources for clinical trials.

Under the agreement announced Wednesday, cancer patients being treated at Owensboro Health's Mitchell Center won’t have to travel to participate in clinical trials. Eligible patients will now have access to new treatments in Owensboro.

President Trump did not do much to sell the Senate health care bill before its failure. But he gave the sale a shot Wednesday in the White House before cameras and a captive audience of nearly all the Republican senators. His comments were at times confusing, and in some cases, outright incorrect.

It shows the challenge for a president who doesn't dive deeply into policy to sell his agenda.

Crumbling Health Bill Dents McConnell Image as Top Tactician

Jul 19, 2017
NPR

When the banner Republican effort to scuttle and rewrite President Barack Obama's health care law crumbled this week, the falling debris popped a hefty dent into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's image as a dauntless legislative tactician three chess moves ahead of everyone else.

His two attempts to craft legislation replacing Obama's law have collapsed for lack of GOP support. Republican opposition seems likely to doom a vote next week on his Plan C, a bill simply repealing much of Obama's statute.

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