A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Rob and Lauren Hudson: Letter of Common Ground about freedom and health care

Letters for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa We write to comment on calls for more government control of healthcare markets. We begin with the positive. Our healthcare system has delivered remarkable medical technology and advances, leading to longer lives and some of the most effective treatments in the world. It’s no secret, however, that healthcare has become very...

Dr. Julie Daftari: Kentucky needs to continue worthwhile conversation about telehealth

For Kentucky, one outcome of the COVID-19 crisis is the increasing and worthwhile dialogue about telehealth – which may enable people to connect 24/7 with a health care provider via a digital device and avoid potential exposure risks associated with in-person trips to health care facilities. Increasingly in Kentucky, telehealth can be a relevant tool in a person’s health care toolbox. This is especially...

Mitch McConnell announces Kentucky will receive at least $7 million to help fight new coronavirus

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Friday that Kentucky will receive at least $7 million to help fight the new coronavirus, labeled COVID-19. The funding, included in the supplemental appropriations bill, was signed into law by President Trump, will be provided to state officials who will determine how the resources will be distributed. Each state will receive no less than $4 million. The...

Legislation to legalize medical marijuana overwhelmingly clears House committee

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky easily won passage in a House committee on Wednesday. “We want to get this to as many sick people as we possibly can,” said Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, the main sponsor of the bill, which has undergone much fine-tuning before coming before the House Judiciary Committee. “As part of that, 13.5 percent of the...

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...

Trudy Lieberman: Rising drug prices put pressure on Congress, but drug makers remain a powerful lobby

Maybe – just maybe – Americans will get some relief from the relentlessly rising prices of pharmaceuticals. That, of course, depends on Congress pushing back against the drug companies’ formidable lobbying machine, their generous campaign contributions, and the industry’s historical coziness with members of Congress. But this year seems different. When you consider that the country’s spending...

Change in Medicare reimbursement rules means more money for 39 rural Kentucky hospitals

The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services said Friday that it will adjust its Medicare payment formula, starting in October, in a way that will boost payments to rural hospitals, which “have complained that this measure has unfairly disadvantaged some of them because wages are lower in their communities,” Dan Diamond reports for the Politico Pulse newsletter. (Photo from Rural Health...

Deep study finds only 36% affected by Ky’s proposed Medicaid work rule aren’t meeting them already

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Gov. Matt Bevin says “hundreds of thousands” of able-bodied adult Kentuckians on Medicaid should be working but choose not to. But when his new Medicaid “community engagement” rules were set to kick in last July, only about 48,000 people on the program were short of meeting the requirements, according to a study of Medicaid records and...

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...

Appalachian residents more likely to die from smoking-related diseases; how to decrease smoking

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News It’s well documented that people in Appalachia die sooner than other Americans, and are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases. It doesn’t have to stay that way; a new report offers a detailed list of strategies and policies proven to decrease smoking, the cause of many premature deaths. The report was created by Appalachian Regional...

CHFS releases updated Medicaid budget predictions, Kentucky HEALTH timeline for 2019

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has released updated guidance regarding the implementation of Kentucky HEALTH, which was re-approved in November by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The new information includes updated implementation milestones for various components of Kentucky HEALTH that will be phased-in during 2019. On April 1, Kentucky HEALTH will begin with many...

COLA increase taking effect in 2019 not a game changer for Kentucky’s more than 580,000 retirees

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service The cost-of-living increase or COLA that takes effect next year for people on Social Security will be the most generous in seven years, but it’s still mostly grocery money and not a trip to the beach. The average Kentucky recipient collects more than $1,300 a month from Social Security, so with the increase, the typical senior is looking at about a $40 monthly...

Kentuckians dropping off medicaid could double if work, ‘community engagement’ rules approved

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The federal-state Medicaid program provides health coverage to about 1.4 million Kentuckians, or about one in three. The exact number fluctuates, because Medicaid and other social programs have a substantial “churn,” people coming onto the program as others come off. If work requirements are approved for Kentucky Medicaid, the number of people “churning...

Medicare open enrollment period runs through Dec. 7; experts offer advice for those seeking coverage

“For those approaching Medicare or already covered by it, now is a critical time of year to review health benefits,” writes Sally Squires of The Washington Post. “Several changes are coming in 2019, including to Medicare Part D drug coverage insurance and to some Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by private insurance companies and are known as Medicare Part C.” So,...

AARP investing $60 million to fund research and treatment for Kentuckians suffering from Alzheimer’s

Mary Kuhlman Public News Service An estimated 71,000 people in Kentucky are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and efforts to better treat and potentially cure the brain disease are getting a major boost from AARP, which is investing $60 million in the Disrupt Dementia Discovery Fund for dementia and Alzheimer’s research. Dementia silently destroys the brain for nearly 15 years before...

Attorney general warning Kentucky Medicare recipients of possible scams as new cards arrive

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Medicare recipients will soon receive a new card and Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning them to be aware of a new scam. Andy Beshear The new cards are designed to help minimize fraud by replacing members’ Social Security numbers with 11-digit ID numbers and are triggering scam warnings across the nation. The cards have already been mailed to residents of some states,...

GRADD announces new website to assist Medicare beneficiaries with saving money

The Green River Area Development District (GRADD) is pleased to announce that they have partnered with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and have added a consumer-friendly website allowing people to see if they potentially qualify for hundreds of benefits, using the Benefits CheckUp. This will allow more people with Medicare in the seven-county GRADD region to improve their financial outlook by...

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...

Dr. Molly Rutherford: New patient-centered model, Direct Primary Care, is spreading across the state

A new patient-centered model of primary care, Direct Primary Care, is spreading across Kentucky. In his KyForward commentary on January 17, Patrick Padgett made several valid points in “Patients shouldn’t have to pay for Anthem’s poor business decisions.” Another way to say this is, “patients and their physicians should have more control over their healthcare decisions.” As our politicians...