Health

Health
2:10 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Tennessee Dept. of Children's Services Deleted Pages from Child Death Records

Someone at the Department of Children's Services redacted numerous pages of information about child fatalities in meeting minutes that were provided to the media.

DCS spokeswoman Molly Sudderth told The Tennessean the department is still investigating who redacted the information and why.

Because the documents were redacted on a computer, it was impossible to tell that many sentences and paragraphs had been completely removed. These included potentially damaging information about caseworker actions.

The meeting minutes of the department's internal Child Fatality Review Team were requested by The Tennessean and The Associated Press.

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Health
2:01 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Health Sharing Bill Moves Onto Full Kentucky Senate

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.

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Health
5:52 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Tennessee Hospitals Say Not Expanding Medicaid Will Cost Thousands of Jobs

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.

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Health
2:12 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Statewide Smoking Ban Bill Clears Kentucky House Committee

Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington)
Credit Kentucky Public Radio

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.

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Health
5:36 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Hepatitis C on the Rise in Northern Kentucky

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.

Health
8:32 am
Sun February 3, 2013

Kentucky Lawmakers Considering Changes to Prescription Pill Bill Passed in 2012

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.

Health
5:26 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Tennessee Republicans Continue Fight Against Affordable Care Act

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.

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Health
8:43 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Tennessee Board to Discuss Compounding Pharmacies Following Meningitis Outbreak

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.

Health
8:26 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Budget Cuts to Slash Funding for Programs Helping Low-Income Kentucky Families

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.

Health
4:33 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

OMHS President and CEO Resigns

The president and chief executive officer for Owensboro Medical Health System announced his resignation Tuesday.

Jeff Barber made the announcement during meetings with the the OMHS management team and medical staff leadership. His retirement will begin July 26, following a nearly 40 year career in health care.

Barber joined OMHS in 2004.

A news release from OMHS says a search committee consisting of current and past board members will lead the search process for Barber's replacement.

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