Health

Health
6:07 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Kentucky Health Co-Op Not in Danger After Fiscal Cliff Cuts

One lesser-known aspect of the Affordable Care Act is it’s reliance on state health cooperatives —  which work separate of the state- or federally run health exchange, but are free to offer their own brand of insurance on the exchange.

But recent Congressional deal-making is putting those co-ops in danger.

While states are getting grants to fund their exchanges, co-ops were getting federal loans which had to be paid back within five years.

But the Washington Post reports that the fiscal cliff deal struck weeks ago kills off the co-op loan program for many states. But because of early planning, the Kentucky Health Cooperative isn’t in any funding danger, spokesman Jim McHanie says.

“Our funding is in place and we’re moving right ahead in fact we’re in the start-up phase of development and we plan to start offering coverage effective January 1, 2014,” he says.

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Health
12:00 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Impact of Ovarian Cancer on Kentucky Familes

This audio compilation is an entry in Best Public Affairs reporting for the 2013 Kentucky Associated Press Broadcasters awards for radio.

This entry contains two stories on ovarian cancer, and how and why it's one of the most deadly forms of cancer in the world.

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Health
6:26 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Tennessee Meningitis Cases Continue to Rise

The number of people sickened in Tennessee related to that outbreak of fungal meningitis climbed to 145, an increase of five more patients just in the past week.

Nationwide the number of people who have gotten sick has increased to 678 patients with 44 deaths. The outbreak is linked to steroid injections from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.

The Tennessean reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said four of the new cases reported in Tennessee are infections near the spine where the injection occurred and one is a patient with both fungal meningitis and an infection at the injection site.

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Health
8:51 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Kentucky's Flu Outbreak Worse than Most Other States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Kentucky has spent five weeks at its highest level of flu, which is far more than last year. That means more than half of the state’s regions have reported an increased number of cases. Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesperson Gwenda Bond says although this year’s outbreak is more severe than previous years, it is not too out of the ordinary.

"There seems to be at least one point in every flu season when all states are experiencing heavier activity and it seems like we’ve just gotten there a little earlier this year," she says.

Bond says the number in some other states has already begun to taper off, which could indicate that flu season is nearing its end. However, she says predicting the end of flu season is near impossible.

"It’s really hard to judge year to year how heavy or light a flu season will be, and we’ve been lucky for the past several years we’ve had relatively light flu activity," she says.

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Health
2:19 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Federal Motion Against Tennessee DCS Seeks Records on Child Fatalities

A national advocacy organization is asking a federal judge to force the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services to hand over child death records. The New York-based Children’s Rights first sued the Volunteer State in 2000 over youth safety concerns.

Children’s Rights has filed a new motion in federal court saying two children died inside the same Tennessee foster home within six months, and that the response to the incidents by the Department of Children’s Services raised, what it called, “serious concerns.”

The Tennessean reports the New York group wants the DCS to provide child fatality records for children who died in 2011 and 2012 and who had prior contact with the department. There has been no formal response by DCS to the federal motion.

The department in the past has said it will provide records before ultimately deciding it was against releasing case records due to confidentiality concerns. The court filing by Children’s Rights says the few internal records and summaries filed by DCS in December made it “impossible to determine what transpired in those cases.”

Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner is calling for a special meeting to investigate the Department of Children's Services' refusal to release records related to the abuse and death of children under its care.

Health
8:40 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Turner Calls for Investigation of Tennessee Children's Services' Dept.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner is calling for a special meeting to investigate the Department of Children's Services' refusal to release records related to the abuse and death of children under its care.

Turner sent the request for the joint government operations committee to Gov. Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell, all Republicans.

The Tennessean newspaper and a group of Tennessee news organizations, including The Associated Press, have asked a judge to open records from the department.

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Health
8:05 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Denton Files Two Bills To Place Affordable Care Act Decisions in Kentucky Lawmakers' Hands

State Sen. Julie Denton has filed two bills that would put control of implementation of the Affordable Care Act into lawmakers’ hands.

Gov. Steve Beshear created a state-run health exchange through an executive order and is mulling whether to expand Medicaid. Both are parts of the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

Denton says her goal is to let lawmakers have some say in either matter.

“Well all those pieces of legislation will do is say that only by the authority of the General Assembly can we expand our Medicaid program or can we set up the health benefit exchanges,” she says.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says his chamber will likely ignore Denton’s bills.

And the governor says he’s not worried about them either.

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Health
7:05 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Smoking Ban Advocates Once Again Face Roadblock in Kentucky Senate

Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in public places are set to try their luck in passing such a law for the third legislative session.

Smoke Free Kentucky has started an advertising campaign to raise support for the smoking ban and a recent poll showed a majority of Kentucky support such a ban.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he supports a statewide ban and believes such a bill would pass his chamber. A House committee passed the bill in 2012, but the bill's sponsor did not push it for a floor vote. 

Many cities across Kentucky have implemented their own smoke free laws, including House Stumbo’s home, Prestonsburg. Lexington implemented the state's first smoke-free law in 2004. 

And after three years of trying, the speaker says he believes his chamber will pass the bill.

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Health
3:21 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Kentucky Senate Chair Wants Legislative Approval for Health Exchange, Medicaid Expansion

The chairman of a Kentucky Senate committee is promising to file legislation aimed at preventing Gov. Beshear from setting up two major pieces of the federal health care law without legislative approval.

The Courier-Journal reports Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chair and Louisville Republican Julie Denton says she doesn’t want the Governor to be able to unilaterally establish a new statewide health care exchange or expand Medicaid services to more Kentuckians. Denton and other Obamacare opponents say the state can’t afford the exchange or expanded Medicaid offerings.

Denton’s bill would make such moves contingent on General Assembly approval. Gov. Beshear has already taken steps to create a statewide health care exchange by 2014, which would allow those who don’t get insurance at work to buy a plan from a private company and receive government subsidies in the process.

The Medicaid expansion would allow those earning less than 133 percent of the poverty rate to qualify for the program. Beshear says he is still considering the Medicaid expansion, while House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he fully supports the move.

Health
12:39 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Tea Party Activists Tell Kentucky Lawmakers to Reject Obamacare

As the 2013 Kentucky legislative session begins, Tea Party activists are encouraging lawmakers to abandon the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — in the state because of fiscal and health care concerns.

About 50 activists rallied in the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday; they wanted their state legislators to hear their concerns as the 2013 legislative session began.

Kentucky can’t afford running its own health exchanges  or to expand Medicaid, argued David Adams, a rally organizer.

“It doesn’t take a forensic accountant to look at our fiscal situation and realize that we have no business getting into this sandbox whatsoever,” Adams says.

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