health

Kentucky State Government

Today marks an important deadline for the thousands of Kentuckians still without health insurance.  It’s the last day until November to sign up for Medicaid or private insurance on the state’s health exchange known as Kynect. 

Gwenda Bond in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says there will be some exceptions for qualifying events.

"If people lose their health insurance coverage for some reason, a job loss or change, a marriage or divorce, then they'll be able to sign up and apply for subsidies," says Gwenda Bond in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.  "In addition to that, people will be able to sign up for Medicaid after the 31st."

Small businesses may also enroll in coverage at any time. 

Over the weekend, the state increased personnel and extended hours at the Kynect call center to accommodate a last-minute surge of enrollments. 

As of Friday afternoon, more than 350,000 Kentuckians had enrolled in coverage on the health exchange.

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.

The symptoms of autism may not be obvious until a child is a toddler, but the disorder itself appears to begin well before birth.

Brain tissue taken from children who died and also happened to have autism revealed patches of disorganization in the cortex, a thin sheet of cells that's critical for learning and memory, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tissue samples from children without autism didn't have those characteristic patches.

Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate’s $20 billion budget proposal aims to defund the Affordable Care Act in the commonwealth, but its provisions won’t affect the program.

The Senate’s executive budget that was passed Monday disallows state general funds from being used to fund the ACA, the commonwealth’s Medicaid expansion and the state health insurance exchange, Kynect, all of which are federally funded until the year 2017.

But the state budget only affects fiscal years 2014-2016, making the measure largely a political one in advance of November’s elections.

When asked what his chamber would do if the 321,000 Kentuckians enrolled via Kynect lost their coverage due to the ACA being defunded, Sen. President Robert Stivers said he would support “supplemental programs,” like health savings accounts, to help insure them.

The number of drug-addicted babies in Kentucky who are hospitalized has increased significantly in a little more than a decade.

The Courier-Journal cited a recent report from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center showing that the number has gone from 28 in 2000 to 824 in 2012.

Although a multi-pronged effort was launched last year to fight the rising number of addicted newborns, medical professionals say it's not enough. Treatment centers are struggling to stay open, there are waiting lists to get in, and too many babies are born struggling.

Preliminary figures in the state report suggested that number of newborns treated for addiction rose even further in 2013 to more than 900.

Lisa Autry

Just over a week from now is the deadline for Kentucky’s uninsured to get coverage through the state’s health care exchange known as Kynect.  The state is working to reach as much of the uninsured population as possible.

On Saturday, several Bowling Green residents turned out for a sign-up event at the Greenwood Mall.  Among them was 32-year-old Jason Abney who was frustrated trying to navigate the website on his own.

"I didn't know exactly which website to go to because when you pull up Kynect on the Internet, it goes to three or four pages at a time, and it was just a hassle," remarked Abney.

Abney has been without health insurance the past year-and-a-half.  He lost coverage when he left his job at a Bowling Green manufacturing plant. 

“I used to have insurance when I worked for Magna and it was pretty good insurance.  I had a car wreck and they paid a bunch of hospital bills, so it pays to have insurance," he added.

Abney got assistance from Sandra Lindsey with Community Action of Southern Kentucky.  She’s a ‘Kynector,’ someone who’s been trained by state officials to help the public navigate Kentucky’s health care exchange.

A bill that would permit state universities to research and prescribe medicinal cannabis oil has passed out of a House committee.

Lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 124 by a unanimous vote. 

The proposed legislation would permit the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky to study the effects of a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that some say alleviate symptoms of some neurological disorders.

WKU

WKU is seeking to privatize the on-campus Health Center that serves students, faculty, and staff.

In an email to WKU employees Wednesday afternoon, President Gary Ransdell said he and Vice-President for Finance and Administration Ann Mead met with WKU Health Center staff to inform them of the decision.

Dr. Ransdell said the school could realize $1 million in savings by allowing a private operator to run the health center. He also said private sector medical providers could operate WKU Health Services in a more efficient manner, and offer "enchanced services" for students, faculty, and staff.

Dr.Ransdell described the WKU Health Center staff as “terrific”, and said the school would encourage the successful bidder to continue to employ current workers. However, the WKU President acknowledged that couldn’t be guaranteed.

Some young people seeking to buy health insurance are finding themselves falling into a subsidy gap that leaves them ineligible for financial assistance that was heavily advertised.

Subsidies in the health law were designed to lower insurance costs for people who make around $11,000 to $46,000 a year.

What insurers offer to spouses in a traditional marriage, they must make available to same-sex couples, the federal government said Friday.

The change means that same-sex couples, who haven't been able to buy family health policies, will be able to do so now.

"It's a big deal," says Katie Keith, director of research at the Trimpa Group, a consulting firm that works on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. "If you identify as married, it's hard to stomach that you can't get family coverage."

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