Health

Health
3:38 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Legislative Fix to 2012 Pill Mill Bill Passes Kentucky House Judiciary Committee

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.

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Health
1:59 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Report: Law Enforcement Groups Execute Search Warrant at Office of Bowling Green Cardiologist

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.

Health
3:39 pm
Sun February 24, 2013

Bill Dealing With Medicaid Late Payments Has Support in Kentucky Senate

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.

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Health
9:12 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Tenneseee DCS Leader: Questions Remain over Children Deaths, but Improvements Being Made

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.

Health
1:34 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Tennessee Governor Remains Uncomitted on Medicaid Expansion

Lawmakers in Tennessee are watching Florida closely after the state’s conservative Republican governor went along with a major piece of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam is still on the fence about expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.

For the first three years, the federal government would pay the entire cost of insuring thousands of new TennCare recipients.

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott said he could not “in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.” Tennessee Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says having such a conservative leading the way could provide “cover” to lawmakers. But Governor Haslam would still have to sell an expansion, Ramsey says.

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Health
12:37 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Kentucky Attorney General Sues Maker of Diabetes Drug

Kentucky's attorney general has sued a drug maker, accusing the company of misleading consumers about a diabetes drug in a state plagued by high rates of the disease.

The suit claims that GlaxoSmithKline overstated the effectiveness of the prescription drug Avandia and hid its risks.

Attorney General Jack Conway says the drug maker claimed that Avandia could reduce cardiovascular risks faced by diabetics. The lawsuit claims the drug actually increases those cardiovascular risks.

The suit filed this week in Franklin County Circuit Court in Frankfort accuses the company of violating the state's Consumer Protection Act. The suit seeks an injunction against the company and civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation.

GSK spokesman Kevin Colgan says the company acted properly in studying and marketing the drug.

Health
9:15 am
Thu February 21, 2013

New Breast Cancer Radiation Program in Kentucky Offers Same Care in Fewer Visits

Brenda and Tony Bradley, at their home in Hardin County.
Credit Kevin Willis

When Brenda Bradley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, she had no idea she would soon become one of the first American women to undergo a radically different approach to radiation treatment.

Bradley lives in the Hardin County town of Stephensburg with her husband, Tony. After Brenda received a lumpectomy, she and Tony discussed radiation treatment options with Dr. Anthony Dragun at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville.

“And he asked would we be willing to become part of a study," recalls Brenda. "And we talked about it and went back and said ‘absolutely.’”

The program Dr. Dragun was proposing would drastically cut down on the traveling time and number of radiation sessions Brenda Bradley would endure. Instead of driving from Stephensburg to Louisville five days a week for up to seven weeks, Dr. Dragun told Brenda she could instead receive radiation once a week for five weeks.

“And he got us from 30 or 35 treatments to five. And we’ve never had a reason to look back. It worked so well, it was unbelievable,” the Hardin County native says.

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Health
2:51 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Kentucky Hospitals, Health Department Voice Concerns, but MCOs Say Groups Aren't Engaging With Them

Representatives of the state's health department and various hospital executives say almost two years later they are still having payment issues with Medicaid managed care organizations.

Speaking before a House budget subcommittee on health issues, the two groups described situations in which payment for care they administrated months ago were still outstanding claims.

Scott Lockard works in the Clark County Health Department and told lawmakers the state public health department was still owed more than $18 million in late payments. More than $14 million of that is with Kentucky Spirit, which is trying to break its contract and leave the system.

But he added that conversations about those payments are ongoing.

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Health
7:39 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

HIV Testing Bill Unanimously Clears Kentucky House

Bill sponsor Rep. Joni Jenkins (R-Shively)
Credit Kentucky LRC

A bill aimed at allowing victims of sexual assault to ask for quick HIV testing of their alleged attackers has cleared the Kentucky House.

Under current laws, only prosecutors can ask for HIV testing of the accused person, and they can only ask after a conviction. The bill would allow a victim or the prosecutor to ask for such a test before a conviction.

Bill sponsor Joni Jenkins says medical advances can prevent HIV from advancing into AIDS if caught early, but convictions often take up to three years.

"So it's critical for victims to know the offender's HIV status as soon as possible and not wait 1 to 3 years for the completion of trial for such information," said Rep. Jenkins.

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Health
5:09 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

Hearing Set for Proposed Hardin County Birthing Center

A certified nurse midwife in central Kentucky has applied to open the first alternative birthing center in the state.

Mary Carol Akers told The News Enterprise that she thinks women in Kentucky should have more birthing options and has applied to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family for a certificate of need in order to build and operate the Visitation Birth and Family Wellness Center in Elizabethtown.

The certificate is required to safeguard against having too many health care facilities.

Cabinet spokeswoman Beth Fisher says there are no other alternative birthing centers licensed in the state.

"I want you to know that women deserve another option," Akers said.

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