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.