A new report finds that Kentucky’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act has dramatically reduced the number of uninsured people in the state.
The report, released Wednesday by the personal finance website WalletHub, finds that Kentucky now ranks 10th in the nation for the lowest number of uninsured individuals, at just under nine percent of the population. That number was over 17 percent before the ACA became law, reflecting an 8 percent drop in the rate in one year’s time.
It also found that about 30 percent of Kentuckians under 65 are enrolled in Medicaid.
Nearly 83,000 Kentuckians have enrolled in new private health insurance plans, and 265,000 have enrolled in Medicaid as of April 2014.
The WKU Board of Regents is delaying a vote to privatize the campus Health Services Center.
At a meeting Thursday morning, board members requested that the university provide them with more information about the proposed agreement with Graves Gilbert Clinic. Regents specifically asked for copies of the “request for proposal” that was submitted to those interested in bidding on the health services contract.
The university announced earlier this year it would seek to privatize its health services operation, in an effort to save nearly $1.1 million in the 2014-15 operating budget.
Regent John Ridley of Bowling Green says today’s move by the board should not be seen as a vote of no confidence in either the proposed contract or the school’s administration. Instead, Ridley says the regents want to make sure they’ve had time to thoroughly review the proposal and have any questions answered before a vote is taken.
“The issue is that we have a board responsibility when we’re about to enter into a contractual arrangement, and if anyone has a question we need to get it answered, and then everybody’s happy,” Ridley said after the meeting.
Faculty Regent Dr. Patti Minter said it’s important that the regents make sure any and all concerns are addressed before conducting a vote on such an important matter.
Local animal shelters are warning pet owners to take extra precautions heading into the Fourth of July holiday. The loud sounds and flashing lights associated with fireworks can frighten and disorient pets, and they often bolt from their owners or yard trying to get away from the noise.
“The best thing to do is to put them in an interior room, somewhere where there isn’t a window,” says Kendall Paul, executive director of the Vanderburgh Humane Society. “Dogs have been known to bust out screens, or even bust out glass windows if they’re that freaked out about the noise and light.”
Paul advises dog owners to leave their pets at home during holiday events featuring loud noises like fireworks.
For animal shelters around the country, the coming days are usually extremely busy ones.
“Usually the business day following the Fourth of July is one of our busiest days for lost and found reports for animals,” Paul told WKU Public Radio. “So make sure that your animal has proper identification on. We highly recommend that you microchip your animal. We also recommend that they wear collars with tags that have your cell phone number on it.”
Paul says having your personal phone number on the tag is much better than having the number of the pet’s veterinarian or shelter on it. If the pet is lost after hours, having an owner's phone number increases the chances of getting the animal back to its owner sooner.
Members of the WKU Board of Regents will vote Thursday morning on a contract with Graves-Gilbert Clinic to run the school's Health Services.
WKU announced earlier this year it was seeking to privatize the campus facility that serves students, faculty, and staff. The university estimates such a move would cut nearly $1.1 million from the 2014-15 operating budget.
Under the agreement to be voted on Thursday, GGC would use about 47 percent of the facility, with WKU continuing to utilize the remainder of the building.
The special called meeting of the WKU Board of Regents begins at 10 a.m. Thursday, in the Cornelius A. Martin Regents Room on campus.
In a campus-wide email sent earlier this week by WKU Health Services, it was announced that the three doctors and one nurse practitioner on staff would not be retained by GGC.
The last day those employees will see patients is July 24.
The increasingly high summer temperatures are bringing the normal reminders to avoid leaving children alone in vehicles. But an Evansville animal shelter says pet owners also need to be aware of the dangers of leaving dogs inside hot vehicles.
Vanderburgh Humane Society Executive Director Kendall Paul says many dog owners make the mistake of thinking it’s OK to leave their pet in a vehicle with the windows cracked. She says the temperature inside that vehicle increases very quickly.
“I always recommend to people—try it yourself. Go out there on a hot and sit in that car for a few minutes with the windows rolled up, or even with them cracked a little bit, and you’re going to start to see what kind of temperatures very fast you’re putting your animal in. But we just recommend that you don’t do it.”
Paul adds that pet owners often tell themselves they’ll only be gone for a few minutes, and that their animal will be fine inside the car without any air conditioning.
“And often times if you just run in for a few minutes, you think it’s just going to be a few minutes in the store, but then it takes a little bit longer, or something delays you,” Paul said. “It only takes a short amount of time—once the temperatures outside start hitting in the 70s and 80 degrees, the temperature inside that car is going to climb even higher than that.”
Published research shows a car in 84-degree weather reached an interior temperature of 110 degrees in about 18 minutes. In 88-degree weather, the car reached 110 in about 14 minutes.
The research also found that cracking a window had little effect on the car's temperature.
Like cigarettes, tanning beds will soon come with a black box warning that the products should not be used by minors. But a Kentucky lawmaker says the warnings won’t be enough to keep teenagers out of the tanning beds.
Henderson Representative David Watkins sponsored legislation this year to prohibit anyone under 18 from using tanning beds. The retired physician says dermatologists are seeing a rise in skin cancer among teens.
"It seems like the younger skin is more sensitive. If we can keep the kids out before 18 then the chances of getting skin cancer are reduced some," suggests Watkins. "It also gives time for their thinking to mature and realize there is a significant risk to tanning beds."
Representative Watkins' legislation failed to clear the Kentucky General Assembly this year, but he will offer it again next year.
Studies have shown that tanning beds are dangerous because of their emission of ultraviolet rays. New federal regulations announced last month by the FDA will change the risk of indoor tanning from low to moderate.
Kentucky currently requires signed parental consent before teens can use tanning beds.
Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is teaming up with a Democratic colleague to defend states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Paul and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker are sponsoring an amendment to a spending bill being debated by Congress that would prohibit the federal government from spending money to combat medical marijuana in states that allow it. The U.S. House recently passed a measure similar to what Paul and Booker are proposing.
The amendment wouldn’t legalize medical marijuana nationally, but would instead prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors from investigating and bringing charges against individuals who are complying with state law.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia currently have laws that legalize or regulate the use of medicinal marijuana. While Kentucky isn’t on that list, state lawmakers recently passed a bill that would allow research to be conducted on the possible prescription of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions. The oil is extracted from hemp and marijuana plants.
State lawmakers heard Wednesday another round of impassioned testimony over legalizing medical marijuana in the state.
The legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Health & Welfare heard pleas from a nurse practitioner and people with disabilities who say that the drug, which is currently available for medicinal use in 22 states, would alleviate symptoms of pain.
Louisville Democratic Rep.Tom Burch says he thinks it’s just a matter of time before it’s legalized for medical use.
“I was here when we criminalized the use of marijuana back in the 70s," Burch said. "It was a rush to, you know, get these criminals off the street, and all this kind of stuff that was going on. It was ill advised, but it was a good election year and everybody wanted to be against crime, so that's why we passed it, so that a little bag of marijuana would get you five years."
The legislature will take up the issue again next month when it will examine the effects of marijuana on post-traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans.
An area of cancer research at the University of Kentucky is focusing on exercise for mothers during pregnancy to help prevent cancer in their children.
Second year grad student Alyssa Jarrel is involved in conducting the study. She says the research has focused so far on mice, but could very well have implications for humans.
"Pregnancy is such a short term intervention and it can have long term benefits for the offspring. So, we're talking nine months for an intervention for the mom to have lifetime benefits for the child," Jarrel said. She adds the benefits could be seen with moderate exercise three to four times a week in a reduced risk for a high Body Mass Index, reduced risk for cardio-vascular disease and reduced risk for the development of types one or two diabetes.
Jarrel says the research has focused on skin cancer but investigators believe it can translate to a reduced risk of cancer in general. She says researchers are seeing reduced inflammation and increased anti-oxidant response in the offspring.
The researcher says a long term grant proposal would follow mother from pre-conception through pregnancy and then monitor the children for several years.
One of Kentucky’s most well-known cancer treatment centers is receiving a multi-million dollar grant to find new treatments and vaccines.
The James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville announced Friday that they have been given a three-year, $5.5 million dollar grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
The Center’s director, Doctor Donald Miller, says the grant will help continue a partnership between U of L and Owensboro Health that is exploring the use of plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
“We have two vaccines--one for cervical cancer, one for colon cancer that are ready to move forward into early phase clinical trials, and this grant will primarily support the testing of those vaccines over the next three years,” Dr. Miller said.
The grant will also seek to further develop plant-based drugs that would allow a higher concentration of anti-cancer drugs to be delivered to tumors.