Kentucky a national leader in hepatitis C, yet many at-risk counties shun syringe exchanges

“Growing intravenous drug use by people sharing syringes to inject heroin and other substances” has helped make Kentucky a national hotbed for cases of hepatitis C, “which ultimately could mean a staggering cost to taxpayers to treat people with the disease,” Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. “Giving addicts clean needles can help stem the spread of the...

McConnell says work continuing on health care bill, invites Senate Democrats to participate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week that all Republican senators are working on a health bill, and invited Democrats to help them. “Can our Democratic colleagues, who promised more choice under Obamacare, really be okay with the continuing failures of Obamacare? The status quo under Obamacare is simply unsustainable and unacceptable,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor....

Commentary: Price transparency in health care thwarted by providers who want to keep deals secret

By Trudy Lieberman Special to KyForward In a recent column I reported on an effort in Ohio to bring price transparency to medical services. Ohio state Rep. Jim Butler had spearheaded passage of legislation that would require healthcare providers, including doctors and hospitals, to disclose prices for their services. The law was supposed to take effect last summer, but Gov. John Kasich, the Ohio Hospital...

Nurses, allies seek mandate for a nurse in every school in effort to improve learning outcomes

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Putting a full-time nurse in every Kentucky school would not only provide health care, but improve education outcomes, say advocates of the idea. “We need a nurse in every school because we need to quit thinking about health and education as separate entities, because they are not,” said Eva Stone, an advanced-practice registered nurse and co-chair...

E-cigarette marketing finds a ready teenage audience, and preventive messaging isn’t keeping up

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News RICHMOND — Marketing messages for electronic cigarettes are resonating with Kentucky’s teenagers, who said in focus-group interviews that teens use e-cigs because they are safer, non-addictive, and cool. “Overwhelmingly, those first responses were about safety and less harm,” Amy Jeffers, director of Pathways Regional Prevention Center,...

House approves bill halting Medicaid expansion, clears way to higher premiums for pre-existing conditions

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News The health-care bill passed Thursday by House Republicans would end the expansion of Medicaid in 2020, limit the program’s funding after that to a fixed amount per person, and let states allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. On a 217-212 vote, the bill went to the Senate, which undoubtedly will change it. About...

Obese children over four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with healthy weight

Children who are obese may be four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those considered to have a healthy weight, according to a British study. “A child with obesity faces a four-fold greater risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by age 25 than a counterpart who is normal weight,” Dr. Ali Abbasi, of King’s College London, one of the study’s authors, said in the Endocrine...

‘Project e-Prevent’ conference at EKU focuses on affects of e-cigarettes on state’s youth

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News “Project e-Prevent,” a conference designed to help people understand electronic cigarettes and their effects on Kentucky’s youth, will be held at Eastern Kentucky University’s Perkins Conference Center on Tuesday, May 2. Fewer Kentucky youth are smoking tobacco (rates have dropped to 17 percent from 26 percent in just 10 years) but more...

Community health workers not medically trained, but assist rural people manage their health care

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As health advocates at the Kentucky Voices for Health annual meeting discussed how to reduce health disparities and assure health equity in the state, a model of integrated care that includes community health workers resonated as a possible solution. “I really believe in the community health worker model,” said Keisha Cornett, health education coordinator...

Study says only way to protect children from nicotine exposure is to not smoke in house — or quit

Children carry significant levels of nicotine on their hands even if their parents don’t smoke around them, according to a recent study by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and San Diego State University. “Parents may think that not smoking around their child is enough, but this is not the case. These findings emphasize that the only safe way to protect children from smoke...

Study shows diabetes’ deaths may be four times higher than reported; state has 12th highest rate

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Diabetes may be responsible for nearly four times as many American deaths as reported on death certificates, which would move diabetes from the seventh-leading cause of death to the third, according to a recent study. Kentucky has the 12th highest diabetes death rate in the nation. “We argue diabetes is responsible for 12 percent of deaths in the U.S., rather...

Nonprofit evaluation shows Kentucky improved slightly in national ranking for hospital patient safety

By Traci Thomas Kentucky Health News A nonprofit group that rates hospitals has released its latest patient-safety grades, giving most Kentucky hospitals a B or C. The scores are similar to grades released in October, but the overall score for Kentucky hospitals rose from 35th to 32nd among the states. The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., evaluated 2,639 hospitals nationwide,...

Half of Kentucky adults support syringe exchanges because of decrease of risk of HIV outbreaks

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News More Kentucky adults favor syringe exchanges than oppose them, and the more they know about them, the more likely they are to support them, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll. Kentucky’s legislature approved syringe exchanges in 2015 to decrease the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, which are commonly spread by the sharing of needles among...

Seat-belt use in Kentucky about the same as national average, but death rate is significantly higher

Only two Kentucky counties, Boone and Kenton, used seat belts at the national average or above in 2012, according to the latest local data available from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing poll by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A county-level map from The Washington Post using data from 2012 shows Boone and Kenton counties in yellow, meaning their seat-belt...

Bevin administration scales back effort to close down Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic

Gov. Matt Bevin has scaled back his effort to close Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, agreeing to renew its license until a lawsuit challenging the effort is resolved. Bevin’s lawyers and the attorneys for EMW Women’s Surgical Center of Louisville filed the agreement with U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers, who is expected to approve it. “The legal wrangling started recently when...

With encouragement from the feds, Kentucky schools focused more on healthy foods, less junk

Sugary drinks, fatty snacks and chocolate candy are becoming harder to buy in Kentucky schools, which are paying more attention to health issues, according to the latest survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s latest biennial School Health Profiles for 2014 found big declines in the availability of junk food since 2014. Here are the specifics: — Chocolate...

Kentucky hospitals struggling to find enough nurses; colleges working toward finding solutions

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News While studies show Kentucky will have a surplus of registered nurses in the next decade, right now many of the state’s hospitals are struggling to hire enough nurses to care for patients. “I am hoping this is cyclical,” said Susan Ellis, the vice president of Patient Care Services at Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg. “But...

With support for statewide smoking ban increasing, foundation may increase lobbying effort

As more Kentuckians favor a statewide smoking ban — but the state legislature won’t even ban smoking at schools — the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky says it may become more active in lobbying against tobacco and for tobacco taxes because of the damage it does to the state’s health. “We are looking at the possibility of really getting involved in a big way,” foundation...

Study finds young, white, lower-income men have greatest increase in heroin use, addiction

Young, white men with lower education and income levels have experienced the greatest increase in heroin use and addiction, a study has found. Men 25 to 44 accounted for the highest heroin-related death rate (13.2 per 100,000) in 2015, a 22 percent increase from the previous year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Silvia Martins, the lead author of the new study,...

Policymakers taking note that disconnect between dentistry, medicine can have deadly consequences

As anyone who has ever mistakenly thought that medical insurance would cover their visit to the dentist knows, the worlds of medicine and dentistry don’t overlap much. They almost never overlap when it comes to education, insurance coverage or practice. Physicians go to medical school, and dentists go to dental school. Your doctor likely isn’t concerned with whether you floss regularly,...