A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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...

Rural hospitals remain at risk of closure; Medicare won’t pay hospital rates for scaled-down services

Rural hospital closures are a growing trend, and federal policies don’t support a model that would include a scaled-back version of services. But that’s what many rural hospitals need to do in order to ensure their future, Mary Meehan reports for Ohio Valley ReSource, a public-radio partnership that covers Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, especially their Appalachian areas. “The reality...

Study: Private insurance pays hospitals 241% more than Medicare; suggests shift to a Medicare model

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As health-care costs continue to rise for both employers and employees, one group of researchers says private insurers should move away from how they pay for hospital services, which requires them to pay a percentage of billed charges, and start paying the way Medicare does, based on a fixed-price agreements that are transparent to all. The American Hospital...

Hepatitis outbreak on the decline in Ky; 57 have died across the Commonwealth as result of the disease

The good news about hepatitis in Kentucky is that the number of hepatitis A cases is dropping. The bad news is that there are still as many cases each week as were once seen in a year’s time, and the state is by the far the leader in deaths from the liver disease. According to the state’s weekly report, the number of hepatitis A cases in Kentucky has dropped to around 20 per week for several...

In primary race, Beshear talks most about health care, but Edelen challenges some past contributions

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News If health issues matter when it comes to your vote for governor in the May 21 primary election, the candidates have given you a few things to think about. In the Democratic primary, Attorney General Andy Beshear has cast himself as the main defender of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which his father, then-Gov. Steve Beshear, used to expand Medicaid...

As school nurse programs are threatened, medicaid money made available for physical, behavioral health

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Many of Kentucky’s school districts have long struggled to pay for school nurses, let alone professionals in behavioral health care. And now some health departments may no longer be able to provide nurses because they will have to pay more into their employees’ pension system. Deputy Secretary Kristi Putnam (Photo from KHN) But schools are about to...

Sen. McConnell aims to sponsor legislation making 21 the legal age to buy tobacco products in all states

By Al Cross and Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that he would sponsor legislation to make 21 the legal age to buy tobacco products in every state – a change that 12 states have recently adopted, but one that failed to pass the Kentucky legislature this year. McConnell said at a Louisville news conference that his move was prompted by the epidemic...

Judge again blocks Ky’s Medicaid plan with work requirements; Bevin administration eyes ‘next steps’

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A federal judge in Washington has again blocked Gov. Matt Bevin’s attempts to require many people on Medicaid to work or do other forms of “community engagement,” saying that such rules don’t square with Medicaid’s objective to give low-income people health care. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg also ruled March 27 against similar...

Beshear investigating pharmacy benefits managers for over-billing, discrimination against independents

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced March 21 that he is investigating pharmacy benefit managers, the “middlemen” between drug companies and health insurers, including Kentucky’s Medicaid program and state-employee health plan. Beshear is investigating whether PBMs have overcharged the state “and discriminated against independent pharmacies,” his office said in a press...

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley touts treatment over incarceration

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News State Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley told foreign scholars visiting Kentucky Friday that treatment, instead of incarceration, is what is needed to help people who suffer from addiction — a stand that is still a hard sell for some in Kentucky. “The best place to treat addiction is not a prison cell,” Tilley said. “And I...