A bill that would allow exemptions for Christian health sharing organizations to operate in Kentucky sailed over it first hurdle in a Senate committee.
Senate Bill 3 is known as the Medishare bill, named for the health sharing organization Christian Care Medishare, which was recently kicked out of Kentucky by the Department of Insurance. Medishare operates by pooling money to help pay for members medical bills.
The bill would allow Medishare to re-start operations in Kentucky by giving it an exemption under current state insurance law.
DeWayne Walker was a member of Medishare and said the group helped pay a large amount of the medical bills when his wife got cancer.
Tennessee's hospitals are playing out the “what if’s” as lawmakers consider whether to expand Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul. Their study says 90,000 Tennessee jobs could be lost if the expansion does not occur.
Without expanding who is covered by Medicaid – known as TennCare in Tennessee – hospitals say there could be a “recessionary impact.” Hospitals agreed to cuts that total billions of dollars, believing they would see fewer uninsured. But that assumption is in jeopardy.
State Senator Brian Kelsey is trying to prevent the state from expanding Medicaid.
“Look, my job is not to bail out the special interest hospital lobby. My job is to represent Tennessee taxpayers," said the Germantown Republican.
Kentucky is one step closer to enacting a statewide smoking ban after legislation sailed through the House Committee on Health and Welfare Thursday.
House Bill 190, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom, a Democrat of Lexington, would prohibit smoking in public places and places of employment.
It's the third year the bill has been proposed, but only the second time it's been heard in committee. Gov. Steve Beshear endorsed the proposal Wednesday night in his State of the Commonwealth address.
Sylvia Suhl, of the Central Kentucky of the American Heart Association spoke at length about the bill's support from the medical community.
Statistics show cases of hepatitis C have exploded in northern Kentucky. Due to the increase, the Independent Health Department District is offering free blood testing to anyone concerned about the chronic blood-borne disease that affects the liver. The department is also encouraging people in high-risk groups to get tested.
The area had 23 cases of acute hepatitis C in 2010, 42 in 2011 and 44 in 2012. Officials have said the heroin epidemic in the area is likely a factor in the increase.
Health department spokeswoman Emily Gresham Wherle said anyone who tests positive for the disease will be provided with counseling, education and care options. She says the health department also hopes to get a better understanding of the prevalence of the problem.
Kentucky lawmakers agree some changes need to be made to a law passed last year that cracks down on illegal "pill mills." But what exactly those changes should be remains open to debate.
The Courier-Journal reports legislators want to amend the law to make it more manageable for honest physicians, while still cracking down on doctors who have helped fuel prescription drug abuse in parts of Kentucky by writing scores of bogus prescriptions for pills that are later sold to addicts.
Many Kentucky doctors have complained to Governor Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway that the new rules are too cumbersome and confusing, and make it needlessly difficult for physicians to get pain medication to patients who need it.
Tennessee Senate Republicans are proposing legislation that seeks to prevent expansion of the state Medicaid program under provisions of President Obama's health care law.
The measure, called "TennCare Fiscal Responsibility Act", was filed Thursday by Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown and has 15 Senate co-sponsors. A similar version of the proposal was filed last week in the House. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have the right to opt out of Medicaid expansion without losing pre-existing federal Medicaid funding.
Members of the Tennessee Board of Pharmacists will be discussing additional measures the state could take in regulating compounding pharmacies in the wake of a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis that has sickened hundreds of people across the country.
Doctors in Tennessee were among the first to link the outbreak to steroid injections prepared by a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. Across the county, 45 people, including 14 in Tennessee, have died after getting the shots.
A task force formed by the state board to look at state laws in regard to compounding pharmacies is expected to make recommendations during a meeting Thursday.
Budget cuts to a Kentucky government agency will mean less funding to help low-income families pay for child care. Citing a nearly $87 million budget shortfall, the Department of Community Based Services says it will also dramatically cut a program that pays relatives who are caring for children taken from their parents.
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes says the cuts will begin as early as April 1. According to Haynes, the Department of Community Based Services has for years dealt with decreased funding by cutting back in areas that didn’t directly affect needy families. But she says that's now impossible.
The Courier-Journal reports the budget cuts come at a time of increased need throughout the Bluegrass State, with more than 11,000 children being taken care of by relatives who receive $300 a month to help cover expenses.
Because of the cuts, the Child Care Assistance Program in Kentucky will take no new applicants until June of 2014. That program gives financial help to low-income families who can’t afford child care while parents work.
Governor Bill Haslam’s new budget proposal would increase funding for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, which has come under fire recently for refusing to turn over records in the cases of child deaths. Haslam’s spending plan would boost DCS funding by nearly $7 million--money The Tennessean reports would be used to hire 62 more caseworkers and investigators, while boosting pay for those already on staff.
Tennessee lawmakers are scheduled to hold hearings into why more than 70 children died last year after having some contact with the department. A group of media outlets in the Volunteer State is suing the DCS for refusing to make public agency documents concerning child deaths.
Last week, A Davidson County Chancery Court Judge ruled the DCS must provide more information regarding the causes of death, the department’s prior involvement with the children, and the results of prior contact provided to those who later died.