Researchers say e-cigs safer, but boost chances of youth smoking; more young adults vaping

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A federally commissioned report on electronic cigarettes found “substantial evidence” that e-cigarette use among teens and young adults increases their chance of using tobacco cigarettes in the future. The report was released the same week as a poll that found e-cigarette use among young adults in Kentucky is increasing. The Kentucky Health Issues...

House committee approves bill to keep doctors’ peer reviews from being used in malpractice lawsuits

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A bill to keep doctors’ reviews of other doctors from being used in medical-malpractice lawsuits has passed a House committee and moves to the full House, where a similar bill stalled out last year. Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, chair of the Health and Family Services Committee, told the panel that Kentucky is one of only two states that don’t apply...

Medicaid enrollees sue federal agencies, officials, alleging Ky Medicaid changes violated the law

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Sixteen Kentucky Medicaid enrollees filed a class-action lawsuit in Washington Wednesday, claiming that federal officials violated federal law this month by approving changes to Kentucky Medicaid and declaring their intent to approve similar changes in other states. The lawsuit alleges that work requirements in the program, to be phased in starting July 1, “sharply...

Committee recommends $1 increase in cigarette tax; doctors say it would increase revenue, save lives

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News What started as an information-only hearing about the benefits of raising tobacco taxes in tobacco-friendly Kentucky ended with an unexpected vote of recommendation by the Senate health committee to raise the state’s cigarette tax by $1 a pack, to $1.60. Sen. Julie Raque Adams, chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, opened the Jan. 17 meeting...

Substance abuse common in both urban and rural areas, but rural users less likely to seek treatment

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News In some ways, substance abuse is worse in urban areas, but rural drug users are less likely to get treatment, according to two studies recently released by the Rural and Underserved Health Research Center at the University of Kentucky. The studies looked at the last 10 years, which included several significant developments in the field. In 2008-2010 came the...

Poor adults on Medicaid more likely to quit smoking but only 15% of KY smokers use cessation benefit

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Low-income adults who gained health insurance under the expansion of Medicaid like Kentucky and most other states were more likely to quit smoking than those in states that didn’t expand the program. So says a study by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, published in the journal Medical Care. Researchers examined smoking-related...

HIV outbreak in Appalachian Ky. ‘just a matter of time;’ majority of counties have no syringe exchange

An outbreak of the human immunodeficiency virus, which leads to AIDS, is “just a matter of time” in Appalachian Kentucky because of conditions in the region and the lack of syringe exchanges for intravenous drug users in most vulnerable counties. That’s what Dr. Jennifer Havens, an epidemiologist at the University of Kentucky, told the Courier Journal’s Laura Ungar for a story updating...

Flu, pneumonia are 8th largest U.S. cause of death; officials urge all over six months to get flu shot

Flu season is here and will last through February or longer, prompting state health officials to encourage Kentuckians to get their flu vaccinations. “During the holidays families and friends will gather, which increases the potential for exposure to the flu virus,” Dr. Jeffrey Howard, the state’s acting health commissioner, said in a news release. “We urge everyone who hasn’t...

School Boards Association says it will support any legislation to make all schools in state tobacco-free

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Usually opposed to statewide mandates on schools, the Kentucky School Boards Association says it will support any legislation that proposes a statewide tobacco-free school law in the 2018 legislative session, because the majority of its members support such a law. “We really try to protect local decision-making on these things,” Eric Kennedy, director...

Ky. teen suicide rate more than doubles in two years; One in 12 sophomores report trying to kill themselves

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A recent survey found that one in 12 of Kentucky’s high-school sophomores said they had attempted suicide, prompting experts on the topic to discuss what is being done about it. The main solution offered was more family support for teenagers, even those who may be only temporarily troubled. In a tone of incredulity, Dr. Allen Brenzel, medical director of...

Journal of Rural Health shows the importance of integrating oral health, primary-care medicine

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Three studies reported in the autumn edition of The Journal of Rural Health show different ways a regular health care provider can help patients get access to dental care, and all three articles say that integrating oral health and primary care would benefit patients. The first study, using data from more than 26,000 participants in the 2012 Medical Expenditure...

Study finds more than a quarter of insured adults are under-insured due high-deductible health plans

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News More than one-fourth of U.S. adults with health insurance were under-insured in 2016, including 44 percent who got their coverage from the federal marketplace and almost 25 percent who got their coverage from employer plans, according to a recent study. Using data from The Commonwealth Fund’s 2016 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, a report from the fund...

Medicare recipients should compare drug plans annually to avoid ‘significant’ cost increases

If you automatically renew your Medicare drug plan without researching all of the options, you could face significant increases in your 2018 costs, says the State Health Insurance Assistance Program. “If subscribers to these plans do not review their coverage annually, they may be faced with higher monthly premiums, changes in the drugs covered under their plan’s formulary, or increased co-payments...

Three events set to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including one at Whitaker Bank Ballpark

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign is having events in Kentucky this month, including Sunday, Oct. 15 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington; Sunday, Oct. 22 at Smothers Park in Owensboro; and Saturday, Oct. 28 at Waterfront Park in Louisville The National Breast Cancer Foundation has a website where you can get...

Ky’s decade-old program for children at risk from drug-using adults become model for other states

Kentucky’s program to help children placed at risk by adults’ drug use has become a model for other states. Ohio’s new plan is modeled explicitly on Kentucky’s, and Indiana and North Carolina are launching initiatives too, Shefali Luthra reports for Kaiser Health News. “Kentucky was a pioneer, starting in 2007, when opioid addiction first emerged as a public health concern....

State teens lagging behind nation average in getting vaccines to prevent cervical cancer

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Fewer than half of Kentucky’s teenagers are getting the human papillomavirus vaccine, which is known to prevent several cancers, including cervical cancer — a disease for which Kentucky leads the nation. A federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, using data from the 2016 National Immunization Survey for teenagers, found that 48 percent...

Dreamland author says opioid epidemic leads to discussion of addiction, first step to finding solutions

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Since Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic was published in 2015, the author says the nation has seen both positive and negative changes in the epidemic that is sweeping Kentucky and other states. “The negative changes are pretty dramatic,” Sam Quinones said in a telephone interview with Kentucky Health News. “The number...

Study finds Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding insufficient for a healthy diet

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, only covers 43 to 60 percent of the cost of the federal nutrition guidelines, according to a study by researchers who say policymakers should consider that as they propose deep cuts to the program. “Even though SNAP is not designed to cover all of the cost of food – it’s meant...

Number of Kentucky school districts implementing 100 percent tobacco free policies drops sharply

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Only two school districts have passed 100 percent smoke-free school policies in Kentucky this year, compared to 16 in 2016, perhaps because they are waiting to see if the state will require such action. “Sometimes when the state legislature takes things on, local officials kind of wait and see if the state’s going to do it,” Ellen Hahn, director...

Ashland ophthalmologist Oakley named new president of Kentucky Medical Association

Dr. Maurice Oakley, an ophthalmologist from Ashland, is the new president of the Kentucky Medical Association, an organization with over 7,000 members. Oakley will focus on “breaking down barriers to good health and active involvement from physicians in doing so,” with an emphasis on the opioid issues plaguing the state, says the news release. “There are so many barriers within our medical...