A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Critics say new Medicaid rules will result in greater loss of coverage than Bevin administration estimates

Changes in the state Medicaid program, to be phased in starting July 1, would lead to many more people losing health coverage than the state has estimated, 43 academic experts say in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in a lawsuit challenging federal officials’ approval of the changes. The experts argue that the changes are “likely to remove at least twice as many beneficiaries in the first...

Legislature sends governor Medicaid drug measures to help independent pharmacies and consumers

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A bill to allow pharmacists to tell their patients the least expensive way to pay for their medications and one to put the state back in direct charge of its Medicaid drug program have received final passage and are on the desk of Gov. Matt Bevin. Sen. Wise A revised version of Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, would put the Medicaid...

Stakeholder advisory forums to engage public in the Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid transformation

The Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid Transformation Leadership Team today announced the scheduling of public stakeholder advisory forums. The purpose of these stakeholder advisory forums will be to provide an avenue for constructive feedback and solutions to help ensure a successful transition for Medicaid beneficiaries eligible for the new health and well-being program. “Throughout the past year and half,...

Kentucky Health Issues Poll: One in four Kentucky adults concerned about losing health insurance

Click for larger image Twenty-four percent of Kentucky adults ages 18-64 are concerned they may lose their health coverage, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). Due in part to Medicaid expansion, public insurance coverage has increased from 29 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2017, but 15 percent of Kentucky adults have no health coverage and an additional 6 percent currently...

Bill aimed at returning control of Medicaid pharmacy back to state advancing, despite cost warnings

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A bill to put the state back in charge of its Medicaid drug program has cleared the Senate health committee and now heads to the full Senate for a vote, but with what will likely be a “winding road” to its final passage, according to its sponsor. Its main obstacle appears to be cost, but it could force more transparency in the shadowy process of making...

Pew Trusts: Trump administration’s historic move to retool Medicaid goes beyond work requirements

By Michael Ollove Special to KyForward Requiring able-bodied adults to work for their Medicaid is just part of the Trump administration’s drive to remake the decades-old health insurance program for the poor. The administration signaled late last year that it welcomes state-based ideas to retool Medicaid and “help individuals live up to their highest potential.” At least 10 states have requested...

In a state thick with cancer, threatened research and screening organizations make cases for state money

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget for the next two fiscal years calls for cuts to five cancer research and prevention programs, including screenings for breast, colon, cervical, lung and ovarian cancer, and for research on lung cancer, all of which plague the state. The programs are included in a list of 70 that Bevin proposed to eliminate to save the state...

Critics say new insurance policy denying ‘non-essential’ ER visits expects patients to self-diagnose

Anthem, one of the country’s largest insurance companies, is increasingly denying coverage for emergency room visits it deems inappropriate–i.e., not true emergencies. The policy, which has been implemented in Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri, exempts patients younger than 15, weekend visits, and patients who live 15 miles or father from an urgent care center. Other patients can...

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...

Bevin tells PBS work for Medicaid enrollees will build character; opponent says more will lose coverage

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News In a national television interview, Gov. Matt Bevin reiterated his assertion that the work requirements for some in Kentucky’s newly approved Medicaid program will provide them with an opportunity to have more “dignity and self-respect” by allowing them to be more engaged in their health care. “So what is it we’re looking to change is,...

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...