A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Dollar General plans 1,000 new stores in 2020; some worry they contribute to poor nutrition in rural areas

Dollar General Corp., one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country, has announced it will open 1,000 new stores in 2020, just as it did last year. That’s on top of the more than 16,000 stores it already has (dozens of which are in Kentucky). “Dollar General’s growth is nearly unrivaled in the industry at a time in which many brick-and-mortar retailers are closing stores or...

Research finds parent’s mental health matters when it comes to childhood obesity, especially in rural areas

As more of the nation’s children become overweight or obese, especially in rural areas, researchers are beginning to look beyond some of the known causes, like inactivity and a poor diet, to other contributors, like the mental health of their parents. One such study, using data from 14,733 children between the ages of 10 and 17 in the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, found that...

Pharmacies could help Ky. teens get vaccinated for virus that causes sex-related cancers

There’s a vaccine for a virus that causes sex-related cancer, but rural teens are less likely to get it or know about it. Rural pharmacies could help improve vaccination rates, writes Casey Daniel, a Ph.D. pharmacist who teaches in the family medicine department at the University of South Alabama. “Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection, with 80 million...

Kentucky receives D-minus for high rate or pre-term births on annual March of Dimes report card

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Childbirth, which should be one of life’s most joyous occasions, has become more deadly for Kentucky mothers and remains problematic for many Kentucky babies because it comes too early. One in nine Kentucky babies is born prematurely, so many that the March of Dimes gave the state a D-minus on its 2019 Premature Birth Report Card. And the rate of Kentucky...

Medicaid program for employer-sponsored insurance premiums has new application process

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A program that will pay the premiums of working Medicaid members who have access to insurance through their employers has a “new and improved” application process, the state says. The voluntary program, called the Kentucky Integrated Health Insurance Premium Payment program or KI-HIPP, allows Medicaid members to sign up for their employer-sponsored...

Open enrollment for federally subsidized health insurance begins this Friday, runs through Dec. 15

Open enrollment for federally subsidized health insurance in Kentucky next year will begin this Friday (Nov. 1) and run through Dec. 15. Plans will cost more or less than this year, depending on the insurer and the type of plan. And many consumers will have more choices. (Click for larger image) Policies offered on the federal insurance exchange by Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky will be an average...

Officials say issues with Medicaid pharmacy benefit managers will be a priority in next legislative session

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News State Rep. Danny Bentley didn’t mince words when he told a health advocacy group that a priority of the next legislative session will be to deal with pharmacy benefit managers’ Medicaid payments to drug stores. Independent pharmacies in Kentucky and around the nation have said for years that the problems are so bad that PBMs threaten their survival. “I’m...

Study says 16 rural hospitals in Kentucky at high risk of closing; another found 35 in poor financial health

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Many rural hospitals across Kentucky are struggling to keep their doors open. And though the numbers vary on just how many are in dire financial straits, the conclusion is the same: in much of rural Kentucky, health care as we know it is in trouble. “We can’t keep doing health care the way that we’ve done in the past, and that’s the bottom...

Adult obesity reaches all-time high of 36.6% in Ky.; Docter calls on insurance to cover obesity prevention

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky adults just keep getting larger, reaching an all-time high for the number of obese adults in the state, ranking it fifth in the nation. “As a society, as a whole, we’re not quite convinced yet what a major problem this is,” said Dr. Barbara Fleming-Phillips, an internist who helps run the weight management clinic at UK Healthcare’s...

Workshop offers tips to keep kids save on farms; biggest risks include tractors, animals, machinery

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Growing up on a farm gives children the opportunity to play in ways that few others get to experience, and gain a set of useful skills, but agricultural safety experts caution that farm life also comes with safety challenges that all too often can result in injury or even death. According to the National Ag Safety Database, 33 children sustain agriculture-related...

FDA probing 127 reports of seizures and other neurological issues possibly related to e-cigarettes

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating 127 reports of seizures, tremors, fainting or other neurological symptoms that may be related to electronic cigarettes, and is asking people to report if they have such symptoms, the agency announced last week. “The FDA is continuing its scientific investigation to determine if there’s a direct...

Health departments have another year before pension hikes kick in, but some are already raising taxes

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News While local health departments are more than grateful that legislation passed in the recent special legislative session gives them another year to manage their looming pension crisis, several counties have already asked for a tax increase as a way to help pay for it. The Kentucky Department of Public Health said in an email last week that it had received 63 of...

Skin-cancer rates have spiked among young women; experts advise limiting sun exposure, tanning beds

New research shows that skin-cancer rates have surged among young women, likely because they use tanning beds, but health experts warn that exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays puts us all at risk, so it’s important to always take precautions when out in the sun. The research, presented at the summer meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that between 1970...

Scores of Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases reported in Lincoln Trail area; awaiting confirmation

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, the main tick-borne disease in Kentucky, has affected scores of people in the area served by the Elizabethtown-based Lincoln Trail District Health Department. The six-county department “has investigated a total 79 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever for June in the district, which comprises Har­din, Meade, LaRue, Nel­son, Washington and Mar­ion counties,”...

Republicans propose taxing e-cigarettes as health and revenue measure; similar proposal died in 2018

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky would tax electronic cigarettes just like other tobacco products for the first time, under a proposal endorsed by three leading Republican legislators and the state health commissioner Tuesday. Taxing e-cigarettes would discourage their use, especially among children — whose increased use experts call an epidemic — and pregnant women, as well as...

Registration open for free forum Sept. 23 on policy considerations regarding medical marijuana

Registration is now open for a statewide forum on medical marijuana to be held September 23 in Lexington. The forum is not intended to change minds about whether marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes, but to share facts to inform how best to promote health, well-being and safety as state lawmakers consider new policies around medical cannabis, said Ben Chandler, CEO of the Foundation for...

State says it won’t tolerate poor treatment of independent pharmacies in Medicaid program

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky legislators were assured last week that the state is committed to resolving the payment issues that the states’ independent pharmacies have with pharmacy benefit managers in Medicaid, issues that the pharmacies have said are so bad they threaten their survival. “We are not going to tolerate it, and we will do whatever we have to do to ensure...

State could owe 58 hospitals ‘hundreds of millions’ if lower-court rulings on Medicaid rates stand

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News For about nine years, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services used a formula to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid that two Kentucky courts have said was not legal – and unless the state Supreme Court takes up the case and rules otherwise, the state could owe the 58 hospitals named in the case hundreds of millions of dollars, the cabinet said Friday. “The...

Providers, others file court briefs against work rule in Medicaid; KY Hospital Association supports it

Kentucky Health News Dozens of provider groups, advocates and academics are urging a federal appeals court to rule against” Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to require work or other “community engagement” from “able-bodied” Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky, James Romoser reports for Inside Health Policy. In five friend-of-the-court briefs, “a diverse array of organizations...

Kentucky Hospital Association awarded $250,000 to fund software that could thwart ‘ER hopping’

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The Kentucky Hospital Association has been awarded a $250,000 grant to equip Kentucky’s emergency departments with software designed to help physicians have access to patient information from multiple sources in real time. The grant for the software, called EDie, came from Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem Inc., a major health insurer. “Information...