health

Ryland Barton

As Vice President Mike Pence prepared for an event in Lexington today at a party supply center, a small crowd gathered outside. Kimberley Spencer works at an elementary school cafeteria in Lexington and showed up to protest the event.

Pence was in town to rally support for Republican efforts to scale back the Affordable Care Act, and meet with small businesses he says were harmed by the law. In Spencer’s opinion, Kentucky supporters of President Donald Trump are working against the best interests of poor people in the state.

The next few days will be critical for Senate Republicans' effort to repeal and replace key parts of the Affordable Care Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will release a new version of the bill Thursday, and aims to hold a key vote on it early next week.

If that process fails, McConnell has floated the idea of working with Democrats on a bipartisan measure. "No action is not an alternative," he said in Kentucky during the July 4th recess. "We've got the insurance markets imploding all over the country."

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Vice President Mike Pence will be in Lexington Wednesday as part of the White House’s campaign to roll back the Affordable Care Act.

According to a news release, Pence will participate in a listening session with business leaders who say they’ve been hurt by Obamacare and then hold an invite-only event at Bryant’s Rent-All, an equipment rental company.

The event comes as Kentucky has once again become a key battleground in the fight over the health care law.

McConnell Says He'll Rework Health Bill, But Offers Plan B

Jul 7, 2017
NPR

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he plans to produce a fresh bill in about a week scuttling and replacing much of President Barack Obama's health care law. But he's also acknowledging a Plan B if that effort continues to flounder.

"If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur," McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday. It was one of his most explicit concessions that a top priority for President Donald Trump and the entire GOP, erasing much of Obama's landmark 2010 statute, might fall short.

There's a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about the tax cuts included in the Republican health plans, but unless you are a frequent user of tanning beds or have personal wealth that puts you in the top 1 percent, you might not feel much effect.

The House and Senate bills both change or eliminate more than a dozen taxes that were levied to help pay for the Affordable Care Act's insurance subsidies and to bolster Medicare and expand Medicaid. Republicans and other ACA critics have argued that the taxes are onerous for businesses and families.

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.

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