Health

The Kentucky General Assembly has wrapped up the first week of the 2015 session, leaving committees with numerous bills to review.

Chairs for the health and welfare committees in both chambers have set their priorities for the remainder of the 30-day session.

Sen. Julie Raque-Adams, a Louisville Republican,  said the committee she chairs will take a critical look at the Medicaid expansion, plus efforts to promote healthy living and protect vulnerable populations.

26 People Have Died of the Flu So Far in Kentucky

Jan 8, 2015

Kentucky health officials say there have been at least 26 flu-related deaths in the state during the current influenza season.

State epidemiologist Dr. Kraig Humbaugh said on Thursday that the fatality rate is rising as the flu becomes more widespread.

“Two of them are pediatric deaths—that’s children under 18 years—five are people that are age 18-64 years and then the rest are age 65 and older,” Humbaugh said. “And of those, actually, eight are over 90 years of age that have been recorded.”

Humbaugh said during the previous flu season, there were about 50 deaths.

Kentucky State Government

The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect last year, according to a Gallup-Healthways Well Being analysis.

During the fourth quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate dropped to 12.9 percent. This is the lowest recorded rate since Galup-Healthways began tracking the measure daily in 2008.

A year ago the uninsured rate was 17.1 percent.

The survey found that the uninsured rate declined as more Americans signed up for health insurance through federal and state health insurance exchanges in the first and second quarters of 2014.

Is Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Jan 7, 2015

The 2015 Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee just released new recommendations to limit added sugars to 10 percent of daily calories. Right now, Americans are eating more sugar than ever before — on average, about 160 pounds a year.

Effort Launched to Raise $1M for Cancer-Screening Van

Jan 7, 2015
The University of Louisville

A new campaign has been launched hoping to raise $1 million for a mobile cancer-screening unit in underserved areas of Kentucky.

Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear announced the effort Tuesday and said Churchill Downs has committed $90,000 and Kroger $25,000 for the van.

The mobile unit will provide free or reduced-cost cancer screenings.

Beshear appeared in Frankfort with representatives of the Kentucky Cancer Program, the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center and KentuckyOne Health.

A portable mammography unit already serves the state with breast cancer screenings. Beshear said the new effort intends to expand the service to screen for six additional forms of cancer.

Beshear's office said the van will focus on cancer prevention education and offer screenings for breast, cervical, colon, lung, prostate, skin and head/neck cancer.

The last thing my 11-year-old does before she goes to sleep is put her iPod on the nightstand. And that could mean less sleep for her, researchers say.

There's plenty of evidence that children who have televisions in their rooms get less sleep. This is one of the first studies to look at whether having a small screen like an iPod or smartphone in the room also affects rest.

Kentucky is Reaching Peak Flu Activity Early

Jan 1, 2015

Six flu-related deaths have happened in Kentucky so far this season, according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The state has been reporting widespread influenza activity for the last four weeks, which means the state has a high or increasing level of the virus.

“Normally it’s January through March in Kentucky when we reach our peak of flu activity. So, we’re reaching that peak a bit earlier this year,” said Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, director of the division of epidemiology and health planning,

Women and their doctors have a hard time figuring out the pluses and minuses of screening mammograms for breast cancer. It doesn't help that there's been fierce dissent over the benefits of screening mammography for women under 50 and for older women.

An important deadline is just days away for Kentuckians needing health insurance. 

Although the second enrollment period on Kentucky’s health care exchange runs until February 15, residents must sign up for coverage by Monday in order to be covered when the new year begins. 

"If you wait until February 15th the soonest your effective date can be is March 1st," explains Kynect Executive Director Carrie Banahan.  "If you're wanting coverage by January 1st, you really need to enroll by Monday, December 15th."

More than 18,000 Kentuckians have been filed applications for private insurance or Medicaid since open enrollment began a month ago.  The first month of last year’s enrollment period resulted in 32,000 applications. 

"Keep in mind that last year we enrolled more than 400,000 people," adds Banahan.  "There was a lot of pent up demand among people who didn't have insurance coverage, and now a lot of folks do."

Most of the uninsured have gained coverage through an expansion of Medicaid. 

According to one poll, Kentucky's uninsured rate fell from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 in 2014.

Kentucky continues leading the nation in a dubious category: the percentage of children living in poverty.  A new report finds that level has gone up 36 percent over the past two years.

Dr. Guy Shrake says the still-recovering economy may be partially to blame for the number of children living below the poverty line

“As a pediatrician myself, it is possible that there still is some residual from the impacts of the recession a number of years ago,” said Dr. Shrake.

But he also cites another factor.

“In a general sense, we do know that more children are in one-parent family than there have been in the past and that that is definitely a cross-connection for having more children in poverty,” said Dr. Shrake.

In 2012, only 23 percent of children in Kentucky were living in poverty. In the most-recent America’s Health Rankings report released today by UnitedHealth Foundation, it’s at nearly 32 percent. 

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