4:00 pm
Sun October 6, 2013

Kentucky Launches New Model for Health Insurance

The Kentucky Health Cooperative touts itself as a new kind of health insurance from a new kind of insurance company. 

It's a non-profit based in Louisville and the board of directors is comprised mostly of customers.  Communications Director Susan Dunlap says the co-op is responsible only to members.

"Any surplus revenues that are earned would not go back to shareholders, as would be the case for a publicly traded company," explains Dunlap.  "In that case, surplus funds would go back to improving member health benefits, it might be used to reduce premium levels, or be invested in programs intended to improve health care quality that the members would benefit from."

Dunlap says the co-op offers coverage in all 120 counties of the state and has a national network of providers through First Health, as well as contract with UK Healthcare. 

Kentucky is one of 24 states that created co-ops under the Affordable Care Act and received millions of dollars in federal loans for start-up and operational costs. 

Dunlap says she isn't sure how many Kentuckians have signed up for the co-op since enrollment began last week.   The Kentucky Health Cooperative can be accessed on the state's health exchange website Kynect.

12:46 pm
Sat October 5, 2013

Nearly 11,000 Complete Application For Coverage

  More than 16,000 applications for health insurance have been started in Kentucky since enrollment began this week under the state's new online marketplace, prompting Gov. Steve Beshear to declare that the state has become the "gold standard" for implementing the federal health care overhaul. 

The governor's office said nearly 11,000 applications had been completed by early Friday, and 4,739 individuals or families had picked health plans and signed up for coverage.

More than 137,000 people had browsed the website and 93 percent of them went through pre-screenings to determine if they qualify for subsidized coverage or Medicaid.

Also, 166 small businesses had started applications for health insurance for employees, it said.

"That tells me that there is not only a pent-up demand, but there is an eagerness to get affordable health insurance," Beshear said.

Kentuckians who sign up before Dec. 15 will start receiving coverage on Jan. 1.

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3:25 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Restaurant Linked to Western Kentucky Salmonella Cases

Health officials have confirmed the source of a deadly salmonella outbreak in Hopkins County. 

Casa Mexicana, a Madisonville restaurant, is believed to be responsible for the illness that's affected 12 people.  Five were hospitalized and one person died. 

Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach says the restaurant is no longer a health risk.

"We went in and inspected, found some food health violations, and we shut them down," explains Beach.  "They did correct those and we did re-training, and opened them back up."

Beach says the restaurant is on an increased inspection schedule.  Salmonella is a foodborne illness that typically results in diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.

4:17 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Beshear Presses Insurance Enrollment at Regional Health Department

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Haynes visited the Barren River District Health Department to show off a new kiosk where the uninsured can sign up for heath coverage.
Credit Lisa Autry

The Barren River District Health Department will soon be one of the places where the uninsured can sign up for health coverage. 

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear was at the health department Wednesday, unveiling a new kiosk where the uninsured can log on to the kynect website, which went live on Tuesday.  The site allows people to browse private insurance plans and see whether they qualify for Medicaid or federal subsidies.  Beshear called Tuesday “the first day of the rest of our lives when it comes to health care.”

"If there is one message that I can give to every Kentuckian it's 'check this out,' Beshear advised.  "It doesn't matter if you like the President or not, it doesn't matter whether you like me or not.  It's about you, it's about your families."

Governor Beshear used the Bowling Green stop to tout several aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as coverage for preventive care and pre-existing conditions. 

The Barren River District Health Department is one of 150 locations statewide that will eventually have a kiosk.  Director Dennis Chaney anticipates the kiosk will be used a lot.

“Particularly in our eight-county service area, we have over 21,000 folks that have been identified as being eligible under the Medicaid expansion and almost another 21,000 of our residents will be eligible for Kynect, and so our work is cut out for us," explained Chaney.

Health Department staff will undergo training and become state certified before helping people enroll on Kentucky’s health exchange.

4:10 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Some Glitches Reported on Day One of Kentucky's Health Exchange

Tuesday was the inaugural day for Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange. 

The Kynect website went live at 12 a.m. Tuesday, and according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 24,000 people browsed to see what they might be eligible for and over 1,000 applications were processed by 9:30 a.m. 

As expected, there have been a some hiccups along the way.

"The high volume of traffic is causing a few technical glitches, but we have an IT command center fully staffed who are working diligently to iron out any issues.  People can continue to browse the site, but we encourage any visitors who experience problems to check back later to begin their application process," said Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. 

"There will be a message on the site to provide an update as we work to ensure everything is running smoothly. This surge of early applications demonstrates the pent up demand for quality health coverage for many Kentuckians, who will be able to have that coverage beginning January 1, 2014, because of the ACA."

Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange can be accessed at

8:29 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Judge: Oxycontin Trial to Remain in Pikeville

A judge has ruled that a civil trial involving the maker of OxyContin should remain in Pikeville.

The lawsuit filed by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma alleges that the company misled health care providers, consumers and government officials regarding the risk of addiction associated with OxyContin. Conway is seeking reimbursement of money spent on law enforcement, drug treatment programs and Medicaid prescriptions.

Purdue Pharma had requested that the trial be moved, saying an impartial jury couldn't be seated in Pike County. Prosecutors objected.

The Lexington Herald Leader reports Conway said in a statement that Circuit Judge Steven Combs issued an order denying the request.

Purdue Pharma spokesman James Heins said in a statement that the company disagrees and is "assessing our options."

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12:21 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

One Death Reported in Hopkins County Salmonella Outbreak

Health officials are investigating a salmonella outbreak in Hopkins County, with 10 confirmed cases and one fatality.

Environmental supervisor for the Hopkins County Health Department Barry Franklin said an investigation has begun to determine the cause of the outbreak.

“We try to find the common commonality among these ten individuals of the foods they’ve eaten and when, all this stuff, to try to narrow it down to certain places,” Franklin said. “Then we’ll go out to those where it’s been narrowed down to, and if they’ve got food left, we’ll sample some and submit it to the state lab in Frankfort for testing.”

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11:38 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Kentucky Not on Federal Exchange Premium List, But Kynect Releases Range of Price

The Department of Health and Human Services released insurance premium prices for federally-run exchanges today, including Tennessee, showing premiums in some states are lower than initially estimated.

But Kentucky’s exchange called kynect is state-run and wasn’t on that list.

Kynect has released the actual costs and range of plans for certain hypothetical situations. Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesperson Gwenda Bond says people can find out their individual costs beginning Oct. 1, which is the first day to apply for open enrollment.

Bond says all but 50,000 of the more than 600,000 uninsured Kentuckians will qualify for either the Medicaid expansion or premium subsidies through kynect.

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8:06 am
Mon September 23, 2013

National Cancer Prevention Study Looking for Southern Kentucky Participants

The CPS-3 is looking for Warren County area residents to sign up now for appointments.

The American Cancer Society is looking for participants in the Warren County region to take part in a national cancer prevention study. The group wants 300 people ages 30 to 65--who have never had a cancer diagnosis--to schedule appointments for the enrollment period of Nov. 20-22. 

Those who are interested in participating can follow this link to learn more about what's known as the Cancer Prevention Study 3.

Participants will give a blood sample and have their waists measured, and will fill out a questionnaire about their health history and lifestyle. After that, those involved in the study will report any health changes through either mail or email.

"And from that we hope to learn more about possible links between cancer risks and lifestyle choices that people make, the environment where they live and work, and also even genetics," said Eric Walker, with the Mid-South Division of the American Cancer Society, Inc., based in Paducah.

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6:00 am
Sun September 22, 2013

Launch Date Nears for Kentucky's Health Benefits Exchange

Kentucky is the only southern state implementing all of the federal Affordable Care Act.  A major tenant of the law are the Health Benefits Exchanges, which are online marketplaces where consumers can compare various insurance plans.  Kentucky's exchange, known as kynect, is one week from going live.  Kynect Executive Director Carrie Banahan says a Lexington contact center is fielding more than 100 calls a day.

“People ask ‘Does this affect my Medicare?’ The answer is no.  People want to know how they can qualify and what the eligibility requirements are.  We’ve also received questions about whether there is a limit on the number of people who can qualify for premium assistance, and the answer is no,” explains Banahan.

Kentuckians must be signed up by December 15th in order to receive coverage starting January 1.  The state has about 640,00 people currently uninsured.  It’s estimated that 300,000 will be added to Medicaid and nearly as many will qualify premium assistance.