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...

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...

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...

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...

Court upholds law requiring doctors to show, describe ultrasound for women seeking abortion

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News On a 2-1 vote, a federal appeals-court panel has upheld a 2017 Kentucky law that requires women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion while their doctor displays the image and offers a medical description of the fetus with the heartbeat played loud enough for the woman to hear. The law allows the woman to avert her eyes from the image and to ask for...

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...

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...

Ban on tobacco in schools still alive; may pass House with measure raising to 21 legal age to buy

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News With just three days left to pass bills, lawmakers in the state House are still working on measures that would protect Kentucky’s youth from tobacco and electronic cigarettes, efforts that health advocates have said could stop nearly one in three Kentucky students from ever smoking. David Osborne A bill to ban the use of tobacco at all public...

State officials defend handling of hepatitis A outbreak in wake of additional warnings, legislators concerns

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News State Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Adam Meier called a news conference on March 1 to discuss the state’s hepatitis A outbreak and spent most of the time criticizing news-media coverage, mainly the Louisville Courier Journal’s investigation that revealed state health officials had rejected expert advice to mount a stronger response. Since...

Bill to ban tobacco at all Ky. schools on life support; measure to raise minimum age to 21 may see new life

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News With just days left in the legislative session, the bill to ban use of tobacco at all schools and their events is on life support. But there may be new life in a bill that would raise the legal age for buying electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21. About 50 health advocates gathered at the Capitol Feb. 28 for what they called a last-ditch effort to get a statewide...

Policy can improve health more than healthcare; report offers 13 policies that work, Ky. only does six

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Improving a state’s health outcomes and lowering healthcare costs often has less to do with health care and more to do with implementing a range of policies that are known to have long-term impacts on health, such as smoke-free policies and universal pre-kindergarten programs. So says a new report which shows that Kentucky is only implementing six of the...

New House health committee chair Rep. Kim Moser: ‘Health care is too important to leave to chance’

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The new chair of the state House Health and Family Services Committee has been a legislator for less than two years and two months, but says she’s uniquely qualified for the position because of her background in health care and her willingness to speak out about important issues. Rep. Kim Moser, a Republican from Taylor Mill, told Kentucky Health News...

Half of U.S. adults don’t know symptoms of heart attacks; Kentuckians have second highest risk

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News About 50 percent of American adults don’t know the five common symptoms of a heart attack, even though a heart attack happens about every 40 seconds in the U.S., according to a recent study. The five common symptoms of heart attack are pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back; feeling weak, lightheaded or faint; chest pain or discomfort; pain or discomfort...

Tobacco-free schools bill moves to full House; Administrators urge lawmakers to pass legislation

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A bill to make Kentucky school properties tobacco-free passed unanimously out of the House health committee on Feb. 7 and was posted for passage on the consent calendar in the House this week. House Bill 11, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, would ban the use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes on all school-owned properties, including all school events...

Dietitians say top New Year’s resolution of quitting smoking may cause weight gain, but do it anyway

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Of the 44 percent of American adults who said they would make a New Year’s resolution this year, 12 percent said they plan to quit smoking and 10 percent said they plan to lose weight, according to a Marist College poll. Since Kentucky has the nation’s second-highest smoking rate, 24.6 percent, and the seventh-highest obesity rate, 34.3 percent, both...

Open enrollment available at Healthcare.gov through Dec. 15; subsidies keep most rates similar to 2017

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News It’s again time to sign up for federally subsidized health insurance through Healthcare.gov. Open enrollment for coverage in 2019 runs through Dec. 15. It’s worth taking a look, because most shoppers in the marketplace will qualify for financial help to lower their costs. About 80 percent of Kentuckians enrolled through the federal exchange qualified...

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...

Analysts tell health advocates Medicaid budget ‘shortfall’ described by state officials premature

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The warning from the administration of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin that some Medicaid benefits may need to be cut because of a budget shortfall over the next two fiscal years has caused unnecessary alarm, a research and policy analyst for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said at the Kentucky Voices for Health annual meeting in Lexington Oct. 19. Dustin...

New report shows uninsured rate leveled out four years into Affordable Care Act, and probably rose

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News In the fourth full year since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was implemented, the percentage of Kentuckians without health insurance remained about the same, and probably increased. 2017 was the first year the percentage hasn’t dropped since the program’s inception in 2014, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau, with...