A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

For Kentucky man, heartbreaking bills, lawsuits and bankruptcy follow diagnosis — even with insurance

By Laura Ungar Kaiser Health News Matthew Fentress was just 25 when he passed out while stuffing cannolis as a cook for a senior living community six years ago. Doctors diagnosed him with viral cardiomyopathy, heart disease that developed after a bout of the flu. Three years later, the his condition had worsened, and doctors placed him in a medically induced coma and inserted a pacemaker and defibrillator....

Many rural hospitals teeter on a financial cliff as COVID Medicare loans begin to come due

Note to Readers: Sarah Jane Tribble spent more than a year and half reporting on a small town in Kansas that lost its only hospital. This month, KHN and St. Louis Public Radio will launch “Where It Hurts,” a podcast exploring the often painful cracks growing in America’s health system that leave people vulnerable — and without the care they need. Season One is “No Mercy,” focusing on the...

Pandemic exposes problems in funding for Kentucky’s non-hospital public health system

From 2010 to 2018, Kentucky’s non-hospital public health expenses per resident dropped 32 percent, more than any state but South Carolina and Nevada, which dropped 55 and 33 percent, respectively. A comprehensive story by reporters for The Associated Press and Kaiser Health News says “The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and lacks the resources to confront the worst health...

Rural Blog: Stimulus package bars doctors and hospitals from engaging in surprise billing

Stimulus package bars hospitals and doctors from engaging in surprise billing The recently signed stimulus package bars hospitals and doctors from sending “surprise billing” to covid-19 patients, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports for The Associated Press. The government has also pledged that all covid-19 testing and treatment will be free. (KyForward file photo) The measure, which was not...

Navigating Aging: A startling inequality gap emerges after age 65, and those who reach it are living longer

By Judith Graham Kaiser Health News In an era when “deaths of despair” — from substance abuse and suicide — are on the rise among middle-aged Americans, those who reach age 65 are living longer than ever. But there’s a catch: Seniors in urban areas and on the coasts are surviving longer than their counterparts in rural areas and the nation’s interior, according to an analysis from Samuel...

HealthBent: A guide to following the key issues in the health debate during the 2020 election cycle

Julie Rovner Kaiser Health News Health has been a top issue in the presidential campaign during the past year: Not only do the Democratic candidates disagree with President Donald Trump, but they also disagree among themselves. Voters have frequently complained that the debate has been confusing and hard to follow. Most of the attention so far has been focused on whether the U.S. should transition...

Breaking a ten-year streak, the number of uninsured Americans increased by nearly two million in 2018

By Phil Galewitz Kaiser Health News For the first time in a decade, the number of Americans without health insurance has risen — by about 2 million people in 2018 — according to the annual U.S. Census Bureau report released last week. The Census found that 8.5% of the U.S. population went without medical insurance for all of 2018, up from 7.9% in 2017. By contrast, in 2013, before the Affordable...

Hepatitis A outbreaks shadowing growing opioid epidemic as number of cases rises across country

By Laura Ungar Kaiser Health News AKRON, Ohio — Just before the Fourth of July, Trenton Burrell began feeling run-down and achy. Soon he could barely muster the energy to walk from one room to another. A friend shared an alarming observation: “You’re turning yellow.” Within days, the 40-year-old landed in the hospital, diagnosed with the highly contagious liver virus hepatitis A, which in Ohio...

Open enrollment for healthcare.gov ends Friday; automatic re-enrollment may not be best option

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News You have just a few days to enroll in a 2018 health-insurance plan on healthcare.gov. Open enrollment under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ends Friday, Dec. 15. “The clock is ticking,” Whitney Allen, the outreach and enrollment coordinator for the Kentucky Primary Care Association, said in an e-mail. ” We encourage anyone that...

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....

Rural Blog: Pharmacies thriving in Eastern Kentucky town, thanks to dispensing opioids

Pharmacies dispensing opioids are thriving in an impoverished Eastern Kentucky coal-depressed county, Phil Galewitz reports for Kaiser Health News. In Clay County, the unemployment rate is 8.4 percent, well above state and national averages, and 47 percent of residents live below the poverty line. Despite the downturn in the economy in the region, in Manchester, the county’s largest city with...

Eleven Kentucky hospitals among those receiving Medicare cuts due to patient safety issues

The federal government is penalizing 11 Kentucky hospitals for falling short on patient safety in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, two more than last year. Medicare has imposed a 1 percent cut in payments to 769 U.S. hospitals that have high rates of potentially avoidable infections and complications such as blood clots, bedsores and falls. “The reductions apply not only to patient stays...

Rural Blog: Study says a state’s failure to expand Medicaid hurts rural hospitals more than urban

If your state didn’t expand Medicaid under federal health reform, that is likely hurting your rural hospitals more than it hurts urban hospitals, says a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina, published in the journal Health Affairs. Researchers “found that rural hospitals saw an improved chance of turning a profit if they were in a state that expanded Medicaid—while...

Indiana’s version of Medicaid may not provide a good example for Kentucky to follow

Gov. Matt Bevin and other Republicans have said they want to make Kentucky’s version of Medicaid look like Indiana’s, but a leading Medicaid official says that Indiana’s program hasn’t proven itself to save money or improve health, so it’s unlikely other states will be allowed to use it as a model, Phil Galewitz reports for Kaiser Health News and The Washington Post. Matt...

Forum examines Kentucky’s health care system and how it is ‘Doing Care Differently’

By Molly Burchett and Al Cross Kentucky Health News   What does health care reform mean to Kentucky? What impact has Medicaid expansion had? Can we work together to do care differently in Kentucky? Answers to these questions and more were offered by national, regional and local health care experts in Louisville at the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s annual Howard L. Bost Health Policy...