1:53 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Buyer Beware: Bogus Websites Designed to Look Like Official Health Exchange Sites

The Kentucky Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection has some advice about how to avoid online scams related to the new federal health care law.

"Do not ever enter your personal information--if you're trying to sign up for a health care exchange--into any website that has the .com or .net address," said Allison Martin, the communications director for the Kentucky Attorney General's Office. "The only legitimate health care exchanges will be located with a .gov address."

Martin says scammers try to take advantage whenever a major federal or state law is changed. She says fraudulent web sites have been created to sell fake discount medical plans to unsuspecting consumers.

"The Attorney General sent cease and desist letters to the operators of two websites, and also sent civil subpoenas requesting information about these websites that mimicked the national health care exchange website."

The only website Kentuckians should use to sign up for the statewide health exchange is:

8:50 am
Mon October 14, 2013

New Prescription Drug Law Takes Effect in Tennessee

Beginning this month, prescriptions for opioid pain medicines and benzodiazepine medicines may not be dispensed in Tennessee in quantities that exceed a 30-day supply.

The new limits apply to anyone dispensing the drugs. That includes pharmacies, dispensaries and mail-order programs located outside the state.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, some of the drugs limited under the new law are Lortab, Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax and Valium.

Read more
12:05 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

While Researching Geriatric Health in Kenya, WKU Student Meets Grandmother of President Obama

WKU student and Somerset native Amy Correll (right) met Sarah Obama, the President's biological grandmother, during her research trip to Kenya.
Credit Amy Correll

It's not unusual for a college student to travel overseas as part of a study abroad program or research effort. What is unusual, however, is meeting the grandmother of the sitting U.S. president.

That's exactly what happened to Amy Correll, a Somerset native and WKU student who recently traveled to Kenya to conduct research for her honor's thesis on geriatric health studies.

Amy spoke to WKU Public Radio Thursday about her research and how she came to meet Sarah Obama. Here are some excerpts from our interview:

Tell us about what you were researching while in Kenya.

"We recognized a lot of needs, even in the hospital setting. And I was curious to know how elders there were functioning outside of that. I visited some very rural areas, did home visits, and did a survey through a translator with residents ages 60 and above."

Read more
9:06 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Study Finds Indiana with Big Jump in Overdose Deaths

A new study has found that deaths in Indiana from drug misuse have quadrupled since 1999 for a jump bigger than all but three states.

The study by the Trust for America's Health found Indiana had the country's 17th highest rate of drug overdose deaths. The Indianapolis Star reports most of those deaths are from painkillers and other prescription drugs.

The study says Indiana's overdose death rate rose to 14.4 per 100,000 people in 2010 — from 3.2 in 1999. West Virginia had the nation's highest rate at 28.9.

State officials have started a campaign to increase awareness about the problem and ways for people to protect their painkillers.

Prescription drugs were blamed for 718 overdose deaths in Indiana in 2011, a nearly 10 percent increase from 2010.

5:00 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Official: Kentucky is not Enrolling Dead People in Insurance Under Obamacare

A state official is condemning some national media reports that say Kentucky's health exchange is enrolling dead people. 

An instruction on the Kynect website says "If you are filling out this application on behalf of a person who has recently passed away, enter the deceased person's date of death."  This part of the application is actually for those who would have been eligible for Medicaid before death.  Medicaid will pay three months of medical expenses prior to someone's death.  Gwenda Bond in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says this is not some provision of Obamacare.

"This is something that Medicaid has always allowed, it's part of the federal Medicaid program," explains Bond.  "Every state, as far as I know, that participates in the Medicaid program follows this exact same guideline.  The requirement itself is the same everywhere."

Bond says it also allows the state to prevent fraud.  If a person came in at a later time and tried to get benefits with someone else's identity, the system would immediately catch it by having a date of death.

4:00 pm
Sun October 6, 2013

Kentucky Launches New Model for Health Insurance

The Kentucky Health Cooperative touts itself as a new kind of health insurance from a new kind of insurance company. 

It's a non-profit based in Louisville and the board of directors is comprised mostly of customers.  Communications Director Susan Dunlap says the co-op is responsible only to members.

"Any surplus revenues that are earned would not go back to shareholders, as would be the case for a publicly traded company," explains Dunlap.  "In that case, surplus funds would go back to improving member health benefits, it might be used to reduce premium levels, or be invested in programs intended to improve health care quality that the members would benefit from."

Dunlap says the co-op offers coverage in all 120 counties of the state and has a national network of providers through First Health, as well as contract with UK Healthcare. 

Kentucky is one of 24 states that created co-ops under the Affordable Care Act and received millions of dollars in federal loans for start-up and operational costs. 

Dunlap says she isn't sure how many Kentuckians have signed up for the co-op since enrollment began last week.   The Kentucky Health Cooperative can be accessed on the state's health exchange website Kynect.

12:46 pm
Sat October 5, 2013

Nearly 11,000 Complete Application For Coverage

  More than 16,000 applications for health insurance have been started in Kentucky since enrollment began this week under the state's new online marketplace, prompting Gov. Steve Beshear to declare that the state has become the "gold standard" for implementing the federal health care overhaul. 

The governor's office said nearly 11,000 applications had been completed by early Friday, and 4,739 individuals or families had picked health plans and signed up for coverage.

More than 137,000 people had browsed the website and 93 percent of them went through pre-screenings to determine if they qualify for subsidized coverage or Medicaid.

Also, 166 small businesses had started applications for health insurance for employees, it said.

"That tells me that there is not only a pent-up demand, but there is an eagerness to get affordable health insurance," Beshear said.

Kentuckians who sign up before Dec. 15 will start receiving coverage on Jan. 1.

Read more
3:25 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Restaurant Linked to Western Kentucky Salmonella Cases

Health officials have confirmed the source of a deadly salmonella outbreak in Hopkins County. 

Casa Mexicana, a Madisonville restaurant, is believed to be responsible for the illness that's affected 12 people.  Five were hospitalized and one person died. 

Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach says the restaurant is no longer a health risk.

"We went in and inspected, found some food health violations, and we shut them down," explains Beach.  "They did correct those and we did re-training, and opened them back up."

Beach says the restaurant is on an increased inspection schedule.  Salmonella is a foodborne illness that typically results in diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.

4:17 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Beshear Presses Insurance Enrollment at Regional Health Department

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Haynes visited the Barren River District Health Department to show off a new kiosk where the uninsured can sign up for heath coverage.
Credit Lisa Autry

The Barren River District Health Department will soon be one of the places where the uninsured can sign up for health coverage. 

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear was at the health department Wednesday, unveiling a new kiosk where the uninsured can log on to the kynect website, which went live on Tuesday.  The site allows people to browse private insurance plans and see whether they qualify for Medicaid or federal subsidies.  Beshear called Tuesday “the first day of the rest of our lives when it comes to health care.”

"If there is one message that I can give to every Kentuckian it's 'check this out,' Beshear advised.  "It doesn't matter if you like the President or not, it doesn't matter whether you like me or not.  It's about you, it's about your families."

Governor Beshear used the Bowling Green stop to tout several aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as coverage for preventive care and pre-existing conditions. 

The Barren River District Health Department is one of 150 locations statewide that will eventually have a kiosk.  Director Dennis Chaney anticipates the kiosk will be used a lot.

“Particularly in our eight-county service area, we have over 21,000 folks that have been identified as being eligible under the Medicaid expansion and almost another 21,000 of our residents will be eligible for Kynect, and so our work is cut out for us," explained Chaney.

Health Department staff will undergo training and become state certified before helping people enroll on Kentucky’s health exchange.

4:10 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Some Glitches Reported on Day One of Kentucky's Health Exchange

Tuesday was the inaugural day for Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange. 

The Kynect website went live at 12 a.m. Tuesday, and according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 24,000 people browsed to see what they might be eligible for and over 1,000 applications were processed by 9:30 a.m. 

As expected, there have been a some hiccups along the way.

"The high volume of traffic is causing a few technical glitches, but we have an IT command center fully staffed who are working diligently to iron out any issues.  People can continue to browse the site, but we encourage any visitors who experience problems to check back later to begin their application process," said Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. 

"There will be a message on the site to provide an update as we work to ensure everything is running smoothly. This surge of early applications demonstrates the pent up demand for quality health coverage for many Kentuckians, who will be able to have that coverage beginning January 1, 2014, because of the ACA."

Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange can be accessed at