Rural Blog: Analysts think Ky.’s newly approved Medicaid work requirement poses little political risk

“On Jan. 12, Kentucky became the first state to get federal permission to suspend Medicaid coverage for “‘able-bodied’ adults who don’t complete 80 hours per month of community engagement activities,” like employment, education, job-skills training and community service,” Tony Pugh reports for McClatchy’s DC bureau. And though Kentucky is one of the poorest...

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...

Open enrollment for health care ends Dec. 15, but one-third of Americans remain unaware of deadline

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News About a third of Americans haven’t heard anything about open enrollment for federally subsidized health insurance, and nearly half of them say they are hearing less about it this year than last year, according to a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s a problem, especially in Kentucky, where about 265,000 people had no health coverage...

Ky’s children improved on several health measures in last year, but many counties remain far behind

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News More Kentucky children than ever have health insurance, fewer Kentucky teens are getting pregnant, fewer mothers are smoking during pregnancy, and the state has fewer low-birthweight babies – but that’s not the case in every county, according to the annual Kentucky Kids Count report. The report, released Nov. 15 by Kentucky Youth Advocates, is part of...

Changes to Medicaid program mean Kentuckians may need to work, volunteer to remain eligible

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The Trump administration has announced rules changes for the Medicaid program that allow states to require some enrollees to work or volunteer – changes that likely pave the way for Kentucky’s new Medicaid plan to be approved. “Let me be clear to everyone in this room, we will approve proposals that promote community engagement activities,”...

Still without insurance, not Medicaid eligible, you might qualify for free policy; deadline Dec. 15

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Premiums are higher for health insurance through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but federal subsidies mean the total cost will be about the same. And many people will qualify for subsidies large enough to completely pay for a low-cost “bronze” plan — or make it less than the penalty for not having health insurance. To find an...

Dustin Pugel: Cassidy-Graham proposal greatest threat yet to Kentucky’s health care coverage

The latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is known as Cassidy-Graham, and it very well may be the greatest threat to Kentucky’s health care we’ve seen. The state’s recent success in getting people coverage, and even health care gains achieved decades ago, are at risk of being undone with this legislation. The bill, sponsored by Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, is perhaps...

New data shows rise in number of Kentuckians with health insurance coverage thanks to ACA

Newly-released U.S. Census data shows Kentucky continued its historic progress in reducing the share of residents without health insurance coverage in 2016, down to only 5.1 percent compared to 6.0 percent in 2015 – a statistically significant drop over the past year. The new American Community Survey data (ACS) shows Kentucky has also experienced a statistically significant 9.2 percentage point...

Former UK dental leader files lawsuit, alleges he lost position for criticizing Bevin’s Medicaid changes

A Kentucky oral-health leader has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit against University of Kentucky officials and an unnamed state official, alleging that he lost his post-retirement job in UK’s College of Dentistry because he criticized Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal for changes in the Medicaid program. M. Raynor Mullins sued Mark Birdwhistell, the UK HealthCare vice president...

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...

Bill Straub: Paul resolutely sticking to his political philosophy regardless of who might be hurt by it

BELMONT, Maine — There is something grotesquely admirable about Sen. Rand Paul’s dogged dedication to his twisted political philosophy – proclaiming it to the rafters like Lincoln at Cooper Union regardless of how many lives it might destroy. The Bowling Green Republican, a celebrated Libertarian, is giving the term Social Darwinism a whole new meaning as he hunts down the Affordable Health...

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...

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...

Bill Straub: McConnell learns the hard way that depriving 22 million of health care not the best idea

WASHINGTON – Listen closely and you might hear the slightly edited and decidedly un-dulcet tones of the late Howard Cosell bellowing in the back of your mind: “Down goes Root ’n Branch!!! Down goes Root ‘n Branch.” Indeed, it has not proved to be a particularly prosperous time for Senate Republican Leader Mitch “Root ‘n Branch” McConnell, of Louisville, who this week...

Anderson jailer says repeal of Obamacare, Medicaid expansion could wreak havoc on facility’s budget

A rural Kentucky jailer says repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could cause big problems for the budget of her jail, reports Ben Carlson of The Anderson News in Lawrenceburg, in a story with potential national implications. The operating budget for the Anderson County Jail is just under $1 million, but Jailer Joani Clark has been forced to request large funding increases in the...

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...

State to accept public comments, hold forums on modifications to pending Medicaid waiver

The Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services announced Monday that it will provide the public the opportunity to review and provide input on operational modifications to the 1115 Kentucky HEALTH demonstration waiver application that is currently pending approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Last year, Gov. Matt Bevin, Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Vickie...

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...

Urban Institute study predicts Kentucky’s uninsured population would triple if ACA is repealed

By Dustin Pugel Special to KyForward Kentucky would see its uninsured rate more than triple under the proposed Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the Urban Institute, Kentucky’s uninsured population would jump by 541,000 people in 2022 based on the proposed changes to the healthcare system. The primary reason for the coverage losses is a cut in federal funding for...

McConnell, Paul find themselves on opposite sides as Senate health care bill moves toward a vote

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News Senate Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act delivered few surprises but drew deadly opposition, putting Kentucky’s senators on opposite sides. “I’m pleased that we were able to arrive at a draft that incorporates input from so many different members, who represent so many different...