Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Tuesday legislation aimed at fixing problems with 2012's crackdown on pill mills.
House Bill 217 exempts hospitals and long term care facilities from constantly running prescribing reports on patients in their care.
But supporters of the bill, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Senate President Robert Stivers and Beshear said the new legislation doesn't weaken the 2012 efforts to tackle pill mills—pain clinics that abuse their prescription-writing authority for people seeking pain medication for recreational use.
"But as with most major reforms efforts, the implementation of House Bill 1 demonstrated a few imperfections that needed to be fixed," Beshear said. "House Bill 217 makes those fixes, without reducing the impact of the original legislation."
The U.S. ranks first in the world at stopping brain cancers, epidemiologists reported Monday. Here neurosurgeon Dr. Roger Hudgins and his assistant, Holly Zeller of Akron, Ohio, look at an MRI scan before performing surgery to remove a brain tumor.
Credit Mike Cardew / MCT /Landov
How does the U.S. stack up against Western Europe when it comes to premature deaths? We've made progress against some cancers compared to other countries that spend a lot on health care, but lag behind on heart disease and diabetes.
Credit Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
In the U.S., teenagers and young adults are most likely to die from car accidents. Cancer and heart disease are the biggest problems for adults.
Credit Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
When it comes to the state of the nation's health, the U.S. seems to get one poor grade after another. Despite spending more on health care, we've been slipping behind other high-income countries for life expectancy and healthy living.
Much-called-for changes to Kentucky's prescription drug law are on their way to the governor.
The Senate on Monday passed the final version of a bill that would loosen the law's restrictions to accommodate the seriously ill and elderly, groups that were subjected to the same scrutiny as would-be prescription drug traffickers. The vote was 36-0. The House passed the proposal last week.
The law requires doctors, dentists, optometrists, registered nurses and podiatrists to check their patients' drug histories on the state's prescription monitoring system, known as KASPER, before writing prescriptions. The bill's changes would exempt patients in hospitals and hospital care as well as people receiving cancer treatment, among others.
"This just went back to some practical common sense things," Senate President Robert Stivers told reporters after the vote.
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky are once again trying to persuade a House committee to pass the the legislation this session.
The House Judiciary Committee is the second committee—after House Health and Welfare—to hear the smoking ban bill sponsored by State Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat.
This time, property rights and business rights were the main topic of questioning, but Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson told the committee that Kentucky's businesses have long supported smoking bans.
"Some say the ban will have a negative impact on business," Abramson said. "And as I said to you, the Chamber of Commerce back at home and at the state made it clear that asthma and lung cancer keep employees out of their jobs."
New data released by the Tennessee Department of Health show that one-third of child fatalities in the state in 2011 could have been prevented. The list of preventable deaths includes those children that died by abuse, murder, drowning, suicide, and suffocation.
The Volunteer State’s annual report on child mortality comes at a sensitive time, as state lawmakers are scrutinizing the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services for its role in investigating child abuse cases where the child later died.
The Tennessean reports children are more likely to die in the state before they reach their 18th birthday than in most other states, surpassing the national average of 52 deaths for every 100,000 children.
Still, Tennessee health officials also noted the 802 children who died in 2011 represent the lowest number of youth deaths reported in the state in five years.
A bill addressing problems with last year's prescription pill mill bill has cleared the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring the bill, which reduces some tough regulations that followed the pill mill bill. The legislation, House Bill 217, requires hospitals and long term care facilities to still pull KASPER reports, but lessens other regulations on them. The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) tracks controlled substance prescriptions dispensed within the state.
Stumbo told lawmakers that the bill would help codify easier regulations that were recently published and that the effort to crackdown on prescription pill abuse was effective.
"But you have a reason to be proud if you supported that bill because it's working. It's working from Pikeville to Paducah," he says.
A group of state, federal, and local law enforcement officers executed a search warrant Monday morning at the office of a Bowling Green cardiologist. The Bowling Green Daily News reports Dr. C. Fred Gott was not present during the search and has not been charged with any crime.
The Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force issued a release saying the search warrant was the result of a joint investigation also involving Kentucky State Police, the state attorney general’s office, Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Division, the FBI, the DEA, and Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The newspaper reported law enforcement officers carried computer hard drives and boxes of papers out of Dr. Gott’s office this morning and loaded the items into trucks. The federal search warrant is a sealed document.
A bill moving Medicaid late payment claims to the Department of Insurance appears to have some support in the state Senate.
House Bill 5 would take prompt pay issues with the Medicaid managed care system and put it through the Insurance Department's current claims process. Currently, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services deal with late claims.
Sen. Julie Denton, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said she plans to give the bill a hearing and supports the bill's attempts to make managed care organizations pay providers.
"I think anything we can do to have more oversight and more assistance in keeping them in compliance with their contracts is a welcome breath of fresh air," she said.
The interim commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services says the agency remains unable to give an accounting of how many children died while under its care. The DCS has been the focus of scrutiny for months over how it kept records in the cases of children who later died.
More than 200 Tennessee children lost their lives or nearly died since 2009 after having some contact with the agency. The DCS has refused to release records related to the cases of the children who died, which led to a lawsuit by several media organizations.
In an interview with The Tennessean, Department of Children’s Services interim commissioner Jim Henry said the $27 million computer system the DCS has used to track children under its care appears to be improving. Henry has said he has full confidence that agency staff will make fixes.
Former DCS commissioner Kate O’Day stepped down earlier this month after the agency came under intense criticism from lawmakers and Governor Bill Haslam.