Number of painkiller prescriptions decline statewide, but remain high in many individual counties

Kentucky Health News reported in July about a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showing ranges of painkillers sold per person in each county in 2015 and whether there had been an increase or decrease since 2010. Individual county data was unavailable at the time of the July report, but has since been made available. The CDC report calculated the rate of “morphine equivalent doses”...

Deadlines for individual insurers extended to Sept. 5 amidst uncertainty over cost-sharing subsidies

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Insurers in the Obamacare marketplace for individual coverage have been given three more weeks to finalize their 2018 rates, pushing the deadline to Sept. 5. The most recent filing deadline was Aug. 16. This is in response to the uncertainty around whether the Trump administration will continue to fund the cost-reduction payments that help low- and moderate-income...

Giesbrecht named new public health veterinarian; will focus on diseases spread between animals, humans

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 75 percent of the new diseases that have affected humans over the past 10 years originated from an animal or an animal product. Kentucky has appointed a new public health veterinarian, Dr. Kelly Giesbrecht, to help protect Kentuckians and the state’s animal populations from such diseases. “We are very pleased to have Dr. Giesbrecht join our...

Smoking largely responsible for shorter life spans, higher infant death rates in Appalachia

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News People who live in Appalachia are dying sooner than two decades ago, and the region has a higher infant death rate compared to the rest of the nation. A new study blames both largely on the region’s high smoking rate, as well as its other bad health habits. “What this report shows is the extreme damage that tobacco is causing our people, and how we are...

Registration open for annual HealthWatch USA Healthcare Transparency conference in Lexington

Somerset-based HealthWatch USA will hold its annual Healthcare Transparency and Patient Safety conference Nov. 3 in Lexington. In addition to exploring issues around problems that occur with medical devices and implants, the importance of creating cultures of safety and health-care accountability, this year’s conference, “The Setting of Strong Quality Standards and Research Integrity,”...

From Mayfield to Russellville, report shows Western Kentucky hospitals are a billion-dollar business

Hospitals in 15 Western Kentucky counties contribute $1 billion to the economy, Ivan and Mary Potter report for their West Kentucky Journal. “Those dollars come from private and group insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and private-pay patients,” they write. Using a compilation by U.S. News and World Report, the Potters researched hospitals in McCracken, Graves, Marshall, Calloway, Trigg, Lyon,...

Syringe exchanges coupled with therapy, treatment could virtually eliminate hepatitis C, conference told

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky leads the nation in new infections of hepatitis C, a liver disease now driven mainly by intravenous drug use. It could be virtually eliminated, but that would require a committed strategy to increase syringe exchanges, medication-assisted therapies, and cutting treatment restrictions such as a ban on treating active intravenous drug users. That was the...

Blocked again, Republicans divided about whether to keep trying to pass a health insurance bill

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News After his last-ditch attempt to pass a health-insurance bill failed early Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “It’s time to move on,” and scheduled other business. President Donald Trump, hungry for a legislative victory, did not agree. “Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead!...

FDA delays rules restricting electronic cigarettes, could endorse them as an aid to stop smoking

“Electronic-cigarette makers won a major reprieve on Friday when the Food and Drug Administration delayed regulations that could have removed many of their products from the market and opened the door to endorsing e-cigarettes as a means to get smokers to quit,” Sheila Kaplan reports for The New York Times. In an interview, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, a physician, “sounded notably...

Paul joins McConnell to advance health care debate, but votes against first repeal and replace bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got just the votes he needed to start debate on a health-insurance bill Tuesday, but that night Republicans’ “most comprehensive plan to replace President Barack Obama’s health law fell far short of the votes it needed,” The New York Times reported. The latest version of McConnell’s Better Care Reconciliation Act needed 60 votes to overcome...

Interactive map gives estimated premiums under latest Senate health insurance bill by county

The fate of health-insurance legislation in the Senate remains very much up in the air, but the Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its interactive, county-level map showing how the latest version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act would affect premiums for silver-level Obamacare plans, the type most commonly purchased with tax-credit subsidies. The figures are the estimated premium in 2020 after...

Kentucky has 6 of top 10 counties for adults on Medicaid; Bell County is 9th for children’s coverage

Of the top 10 rural counties in the United States where adults are most dependent on Medicaid for their health care, Kentucky has six. They are Wolfe, ranking first with 45 percent of its adults on Medicaid; Bell, with 44 percent; Breathitt and Owsley, 43 percent each; Lee, 42 percent; and Harlan, 40 percent. The figures come from the Rural Health Policy Project of the Center for Children and Families...

Swimmer’s ear often a part of the summer season, but there are ways it can be prevented

One of the best parts of summer is swimming, but it can cause a condition called swimmer’s ear that can be extremely painful. Acute otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear, happens when water stays in the ear too long, which creates a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. “Swimming is a significant risk factor, especially in fresh water,” Kara Jones-Schubart, a clinical assistant...

Commentary: Dual track insurance proposal could send us back to bad old days of American health care

By Trudy Lieberman Special to KyForward A decade ago I interviewed a Florida woman who was the victim of the kind of egregious health insurance abuses that finally disappeared with the Affordable Care Act. They could surface again if the Republicans succeed with the latest health reform proposal offered by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, which would result in a two-track insurance market. Insurers would be able...

Opponents dominate public hearing on state’s revised proposal for changes in Medicaid program

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Only three of the 17 Kentuckians who spoke at the final public hearing in Frankfort on changes to the state’s Medicaid proposal supported it. The advocates said the work requirements “will make their lives better” and cited personal responsibility as reasons for their support. Opponents, however, said the changes create a barrier to care for...

Floyd County mobile dental until to provide free oral health evaluation, treatment at district schools

In an effort to make sure its students have access to dental treatment, the Floyd County School District has partnered with a regional health-care center that will provide dental services at its schools via a mobile dental unit, Mary Meadows reports for the Floyd County Chronicle. The school board approved the contract with Big Sandy Health Care at its June 26 meeting. Meadows reports that the contract...

State’s revised Medicaid waiver would increase work requirements, add penalty for not reporting changes

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Gov. Matt Bevin has proposed modifications to the state’s Medicaid waiver request, with stronger work and volunteer requirements and a six-month disqualification for those who fail to report changes in their work and employment status. Kentucky submitted its original proposal to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about ten months ago...

Attorneys file 111 medical negligence cases to beat new law requiring prior health panel review

In a proverbial rush to the courthouse, Kentucky lawyers filed 111 lawsuits alleging medical negligence in the week before a new state law took effect, requiring such suits to be reviewed by a panel of health professionals before they can proceed. Andrew Wolfson of The Courier-Journal in Louisville reports that 68 of the suits allege “that doctors, hospitals, nursing home and other medical professionals...

Studies show Kentucky would be among biggest losers under current version of health care bill

Few states would lose more of their federal health-care spending than Kentucky if the current version of the bill being pushed by Sen. Mitch McConnell became law, according to studies surveyed by the Lexington Herald-Leader. “The left-leaning Center for American Progress estimated 231,400 fewer Kentuckians would have insurance in 2026 under the bill,” reporter Bill Estep writes. “The...

Women 25-44 driving increase in opioid-related emergency room visits, hospital stays

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky is a national leader in yet another measurement of the painkiller epidemic: the number of opioid-related emergency-room visits and inpatient hospital stays. That was established by a study which found that the numbers are largely driven by women between 25 and 44. Kentucky ranks eighth in the rate of opioid-related emergency room visits for both men...