A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow set to outline troubling increase in e-cigarette use among teens

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Health groups in Kentucky say teens in the state have the wrong idea when it comes to the safety of e-cigarettes. Ben Chandler with Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow said 1-in-5 high school students uses e-cigarettes – also called vaping. That’s a 78 percent increase in the past year. With flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy, health experts believe...

Don’t let flu ruin your holiday plans, health officials urge vaccinations for everyone six months and older

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service With the holiday season here, health officials in Kentucky are urging people to take steps to help prevent spreading the flu. During last year’s flu season, 325 adults and five children died in Kentucky due to flu or complications from the virus, and there were a record number of hospitalizations. Christa Mitchell from Central Kentucky says she spent 49 days...

Advocates urge Congress to act to address harsh sentencing laws during lame-duck session

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service People languishing in federal prison for decades on nonviolent drug convictions may get a new chance at justice if the U.S, Senate finds the political will to pass sentencing reform in the final weeks of the lame-duck session. Groups on both left and right on the political spectrum support the First Step Act, a series of measures to give judges more freedom to get...

Three Kentucky cities awarded AARP grants to create age-friendly infrastructure in their communities

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Three Kentucky cities are seeing their ideas to improve livability come to fruition. Danville, Louisville and Lexington were awarded more than $25,000 combined in grants from the 2018 AARP Community Challenge Grant program. The money was to be used on quick action projects, which Rita Morrow, a volunteer with AARP Kentucky, explains are part of the organization’s...

Advocates concerned over rise of uninsured children in Kentucky, as 41,000 remain without coverage

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service For the first time in nearly a decade, the number of children without health coverage in the United States has risen; in Kentucky, it stands at 41,000. According to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Children and Families, the number of uninsured kids rose by more than 275,000 in 2017, and nearly 4 million children in the U.S. now lack coverage. The...

Freed from death row: Gary Drinkard, wrongly convicted of murder, shares story with Kentuckians

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, Gary Drinkard spent six years on death row before the truth was revealed. Yesterday, he was in Kentucky to talk about his experience. Drinkard was sentenced to the death for a 1993 Alabama murder and was eventually exonerated due to prosecutorial misconduct. He may be a free man now, but Drinkard explained the capital...

Organizations working to educate Ky. families served by food banks on how to manage Type 2 diabetes

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service While helping to reduce hunger throughout the state, some advocacy groups also are spreading the word about how to avoid an all too common disease. The American Diabetes Association, the Kentucky Association of Food Banks and Passport Health Plan are working to educate families served by food banks about how they can best prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes. Kirsten...

10,000 Kentuckians face new struggle to provide for families as SNAP benefits work requirements begin

Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Putting food on the table has become a much bigger struggle this year for tens of thousands of Kentuckians. The state began reinstating work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on a county-by-county basis back in February. And since May, new data shows one-in-five people subject to the requirement have since lost SNAP assistance. More than...

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...

Felony voting ban keeps an estimated 300,000 Kentuckians from casting ballots on election day

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service They’ve paid their dues for mistakes of their past, however an estimated 300,000 Kentuckians are not allowed to cast a ballot on Election Day. Kentucky is one of four states that takes away the voting power of all people with a felony conviction for their entire lifetime. A partial pardon from the governor can restore voting rights, but it’s a tedious...

National Diabetes Month: Experts raising awareness of gestational diabetes among pregnant Kentuckians

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service National Diabetes Month started this week, and at 14 percent, Kentucky has the third-highest rate of diabetes in the U.S. While diabetes can affect people of all age groups, experts are particularly concerned about gestational diabetes in women, or abnormal blood-sugar levels during pregnancy. An increasing body of research indicates the problem doesn’t stop...

New initiative aims to change the trajectory for children exposed to adverse childhood experiences

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Children exposed to traumatizing events can suffer physically and emotionally as they grow. And a special initiative in Kentucky is working to help change the trajectory for these youth. Adverse childhood experiences, also known as “ACEs,” include witnessing violence or domestic abuse, the death of a parent, and poverty. Dr. David Finke is co-chair of...

New survey shows most Kentuckians think identity theft is inevitable; experts offer online security tips

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service A new survey indicates more than two-thirds of Kentuckians think becoming the victim of credit theft is unavoidable. However, consumer groups say it doesn’t have to be inevitable. In a recent survey conducted by AARP Kentucky, 73 percent of people failed a new digital-identity quiz. Volunteer with the organization Deborah Turner said people can strengthen...

Many Kentuckians will decide more than just the election this fall as they review health care options

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Candidates in the upcoming election aren’t the only choices Kentuckians need to make this fall. Some workers will have to decide on health insurance options for 2019. Executive Director of United Healthcare of Kentucky Paul Brophy explains it’s the time of year when many companies set aside a two-week period for employees to select health benefits for...

New data shows number of Kentucky kids being raised by relatives has nearly doubled since 2013

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Thousands of Kentuckians open their hearts and homes to help the children of loved ones during times of crisis. And new data highlights the need to better assist these kinship families. According to Census data, there are 96,000 Kentucky kids being raised by a relative, nearly double the number in 2013. That includes about 15,000 children who were removed from their...

Public can now comment on Trump administration proposal to limit green card, visa applications

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service People can now officially weigh in on a proposal by the Trump administration to punish legal permanent residents who have used certain public benefits by making it harder for them to get a green card or visa. The proposal comes despite studies that show legal permanent residents use benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid...

Rural digital divide in Ky. a two-fold problem; state’s high speed internet plan remains behind schedule

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service The Internet is an essential tool in the daily lives of many Americans – however, Kentucky’s challenges in closing the rural digital divide are two-fold. An estimated 22 percent of Kentuckians have access to two or fewer broadband providers in their area, and the Kentucky Wired plan to ensure high-speed access in every county is behind schedule. Tim Marema,...

New report shows Medicaid expansion has had significant impact in Ky., especially in rural areas

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service New research illustrates the significant impact Medicaid expansion is having in Kentucky, especially in rural areas. Among states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to the findings, uninsured rates for low-income adults living in rural areas and small towns fell more than three times more than in non-expansion states. As early adopter...

Experts to take an even deeper look at Kentucky’s opioid crises at September 24 forum in Lexington

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service As health, business and community leaders in Kentucky continue their work to combat the opioid epidemic, they’ll take an even deeper dive into the problem at an upcoming event. In recent years, the state has limited painkiller prescriptions and joined a lawsuit against drug companies. Despite these efforts, drug overdose deaths in Kentucky have jumped about...

Environmental groups urge leaders to use VW settlement funds wisely, invest in EV technology

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Kentucky is expected to get millions of dollars as part of the Volkswagen emissions settlement, and environmental groups are asking state leaders to spend the money wisely. After admitting to cheating on emissions tests and deceiving customers, the automaker agreed to a nearly $15 billion settlement. Of that, $4.7 billion will be going to states to reduce nitrogen...