health

Addiction experts are up in arms over remarks by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in which he referred to medication-assisted treatment for addiction as "substituting one opioid for another."

Nearly 700 researchers and practitioners sent a letter Monday communicating their criticisms to Price and urging him to "set the record straight."

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

A new study showed eight counties in Kentucky have seen the largest decline of life expectancy in the nation over a 34-year period.

Those counties are concentrated in southeastern Kentucky. Owsley County saw the largest drop in life expectancy in the nation, with people living 2.3 less years in 2014 than they did in 1980. The study attributed the decline to poverty, obesity, smoking and a lack of access to health care.

 

Owsley County Judge-Executive, Cale Turner, wasn’t surprised by the findings. He pointed to drug abuse and a historic lack of access to health care to explain the study’s results. The other Kentucky counties that saw huge declines in life expectancy are Lee, Leslie, Breathitt, Clay, Powell, Estill, and Perry.

As soon as the House approved the GOP health care bill on Thursday, Democrats were working on using it against Republicans in next year's midterm elections.

"They have this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar they carry," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared just after the American Health Care Act passed the House.

Here’s How Kentucky’s Reps Voted On The GOP Health Care Bill

May 4, 2017
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The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday afternoon to approve a Republican-led plan that would eliminate many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This marks a victory for Republican lawmakers — who have long vowed to repeal and replace President Obama’s signature health care law — and for President Trump.

With the 217-213 vote, the measure now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to undergo intense debate and major revision.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers were forbidden from increasing costs or denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But under the GOP replacement bill, states would be able to apply for waivers that would allow insurers to set premiums based on individuals’ medical backgrounds.

House Republicans approved their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.

Here's a rundown of key provisions in the American Health Care Act and what would happen if the Senate approves them and the bill becomes law.

Buying insurance

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A new study gave Kentucky poor marks for the safety of its drinking water.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says the commonwealth has the tenth-highest number of offenses per capita

Violations ranged from high levels of arsenic and nitrates to failure to test or properly report contamination levels. The Courier Journal reported no other state in the nation had a larger percent of its population getting its water from utilities with at least one violation. The study was based on safe drinking water act violations, and the number of customers served by those utilities.

Indiana was twenty-second in total water quality offenses per capita, while Tennessee ranked twenty-third.

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As House Republicans work to garner support for the revised American Health Care Act — the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare — we’re finding out where Kentucky representatives stand.

President Donald Trump said the AHCA would keep in place protections for people with pre-existing conditions. But recent changes to the proposal include an amendment that would give Kentucky and other states the ability to opt-out of those protections, allowing insurance companies to charge higher rates and deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Vice President Mike Pence went to Capitol Hill Monday afternoon to meet with lawmakers, a sign that the White House is still drumming up votes.

Alexandra Kanik

By most measures, health outcomes in the Ohio Valley region are not very good, with many parts of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia ranking near the bottom among states.

But a team of health researchers may have found a few places within the region that stand out. They see them as potential ‘bright spots’ -- places with some health measures better than expected for the region.

Now the researchers want to know why these communities fare better and whether the lessons can be applied elsewhere.

Residents of West Virginia’s smallest county give different answers when asked to describe their home.

“There is here a very strong sense of community," a local reverend said.

“The people are friendly. They’re helpful,” according to a woman working with a local non-profit operating in one of the county’s poorest areas.

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Public schools would be in a financial pinch if Congressional Republicans are successful in changing the way Medicaid is funded.

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Act requires public schools pay for health care services for students with disabilities — including services like school nurses, speech and mental health therapists. Kentucky schools received $34 million in 2015 toward those costs. Over half of the funds came from Medicaid — the rest came from the state.

That money could be in jeopardy if the American Health Care Act – also referred to as Trumpcare – is revived. The GOP plan proposes cutting $839 billion in Medicaid spending to states over 10 years.

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

At a moment when food aid agencies are working to provide healthier food to the poor and the elderly, President Donald Trump has proposed a 21 percent cut in funding for the agriculture programs that support them.

It’s a move that advocates say is bad for people who need food and local farmers who provide it.

To understand why folks are worried is to understand Appalachia’s dependence on food programs. Research at West Virginia University found 15 percent of people there are food insecure. A study in Athens, Ohio, showed half of the families enrolled in Head Start couldn’t count on regular meals. And in Kentucky, where one fourth of children in poverty cope with hunger, God’s Pantry program director Danielle Bozarth struggles to keep up. She said it’s unclear what specific food-related programs might be hurt by budget cuts.

NPR

A new poll shows growing support for a statewide ban on smoking in most public places, despite Kentucky having the highest rate of smokers in the nation.

The latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll shows 71 percent of Kentuckians support a comprehensive statewide-smoke free law compared to 66 percent over the last two years.

Ben Chandler, president and CEO of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, says such a law would help reduce second-hand smoke and discourage young people from becoming smokers.

“When people don’t see smoking as much, they’re not likely to do it and where we have to stop the smoking is with young people,” Chandler says. “Those are the people who are the most influenced by these things.”

Howard Berkes/NPR

A bipartisan group of legislators has asked President Donald Trump to make more money available for black lung health clinics as they face an increase in cases of the disease among coal miners.  

More than 20 clinics would benefit from the $3.3 million increase lawmakers are requesting. The clinics provide miners with health screenings, medical care, and assistance in securing black lung benefits.

The lawmakers wrote in a letter to the president and the White House budget director that the level of funding for clinics has been frozen for the past five years.  

When House Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that people can buy insurance that's right for them, and not something created in Washington, part of what he's saying is that he wants to get rid of so-called essential health benefits.

That's a list of 10 general categories of medical care that all insurance policies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act.

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Kentucky has ranked first in the country in deaths from lung cancer for years, and about a third of those deaths were related to smoking, according to a 2016 study released by the American Cancer Society.

A lot of public attention is now focused on overdose deaths from heroin and other drugs, but studies show deaths from lung cancer and other smoking-related cancers were three times as high as deaths from overdoses in 2015.

I spoke with Heather Wehrheim, advocacy director of the American Lung Association in Kentucky. She says addressing the public health effects of tobacco use should be more of a priority for not only the state, but also the public.

Pence to Visit Louisville to Promote Health Plan

Mar 9, 2017
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Vice President Mike Pence plans to visit Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday as he tries to make the case for repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama's health care law.

Pence is set to appear with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin at the event in the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has been a critic of the health care legislation backed by President Donald Trump and Pence.

Pence was in Ohio and Wisconsin last week in support of the repeal.

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