Health and Welfare

5:46pm

Mon July 9, 2012
Health and Welfare

FDA Approves HIV Take Home Test

A model demonstrates how to use the OraQuick test, which detects the presence of HIV in saliva. AP photo by Chuck Zovko.

Soon, taking an HIV test will be no more complicated than swabbing one's mouth and waiting for the results. The Federal Food and Drug Administration last week approved the OraQuick test, which detects HIV antibodies and gives a result in 20 to 40 minutes.

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5:43pm

Mon July 9, 2012
Health and Welfare

Does Obamacare Tax the Middle Class?

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell speaks at a Rotary Club meeting in Louisville. (C-J photo by Michael Clevenger)

With Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell calling the federal health-care reform law a tax on the middle class, Courier-Journal Washington correspondent James R. Carroll collects the findings of independent fact-checking services to assess whether McConnell is accurate.

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10:30am

Sun July 8, 2012
Health and Welfare

Republicans Hope to Halt Medicaid Expansion

The top Republican in the Kentucky House wants Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to halt an expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. The expansion of Medicaid is a central element in President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which says the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs to add certain people to the program in 2014. After three years, the states must pick up some of the costs of the expansion, which Kentucky can't afford, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown said.

11:54am

Fri July 6, 2012
Health and Welfare

Water Shortage Watch for 27 Counties

With temperatures predicted to top the 100 degree mark in many communities today, Kentucky has put 27 counties in a water shortage watch category.  Several counties in central Kentucky including Fayette, Madison, Scott, and Woodford are included in the watch.  While western Kentucky has experienced longer drought conditions, relatively few counties are on the watch list.  Bill Caldwell with the State Division of Water says that’s not surprising.  “Out in the western part of the state, most of the water is from very deep wells or from ground water aquifers that are very resilient when it comes to drought.”

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9:02am

Fri July 6, 2012
Health and Welfare

Kaiser Commission Says Kentucky Will Benefit Most from Health Care Reform

"Kentucky will benefit most from the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured," Lorie Hailey writes for The Lane Report, a Lexington-based business publication.

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9:00am

Fri July 6, 2012
Health and Welfare

Hoover and McConnell Against Medicaid Expansion

The Republican leader of the state House said today that Kentucky should not take advantage of an expansion of Medicaid under federal health reform because it would cost too much once the state starts paying 10 percent of the cost. The U.S. Supreme Court last week said the states could refuse to expand the program without risking loss of their current Medicaid money, as the reform law prescribed.

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12:00am

Thu July 5, 2012
Health and Welfare

Turning In Power Hungry Refrigerators

A refrigerator or freezer out in the garage can be a nice place for leftovers and beverages.  But, if inefficient, they can also be heavy energy consumers.  Kentucky Utilities is offering 30 dollars to anyone who wants to unload an old fridge.  K-U’s Cliff Feltham says modern refrigerators are much more efficient..

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4:23pm

Mon July 2, 2012
Health and Welfare

Fireworks Ban Imposed in Lexington

The city of Lexington has banned the use of common and consumer fireworks this week.  The decision comes in light of the extremely dry conditions found in the bluegrass.  The ban will remain in place until the Division of Fire and Emergency Services lifts the outdoor burning ban.  The announcement came from Lexington Mayor Jim Gray this afternoon.   The mayor says the ban will not affect the five fireworks public displays which already have permits.

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4:22pm

Mon July 2, 2012
Health and Welfare

Thousands Could Be Without Power All Week

Power outages across Kentucky have prompted Governor Beshear to direct the Transportation Cabinet to issue a state of emergency.  It allows for the suspension of registration requirements for out of state utility vehicles coming to Kentucky to help restore power.  A series of storms since Friday have knocked out electricity for more than 60 thousand homes and businesses.

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3:54pm

Mon July 2, 2012
Health and Welfare

Lexington Bans Consumer Fireworks

The city of Lexington has banned the use of common and consumer fireworks this week.  The decision comes in light of the extremely dry conditions found in the bluegrass.  The ban will remain in place until the Division of Fire and Emergency Services lifts the outdoor burning ban.  The announcement came from Lexington Mayor Jim Gray this afternoon.   The mayor says the ban will not affect the five fireworks public displays which already have permits.

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2:25pm

Mon July 2, 2012
Health and Welfare

Drought After the Rains

Experts are keeping their eyes this week on the widespread drought conditions affecting much of Kentucky.  State Climatologist, Stuart Foster, made the drive from western Kentucky to Louisville recently.  “Driving up to Louisville the other day that looked like an oasis… compared to western Kentucky..and yet the entire state is in some level of drought,” said Foster.  Many areas, especially in the central and eastern parts of the state, received some rain during thunderstorms Sunday night.  Still, Foster says a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico might provide the best remedy.

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10:13am

Mon July 2, 2012
Health and Welfare

Poll Shows Kentuckians Support Health Care Reform

While politicians say President Obama's health-care reform is not popular in Kentucky, polls show that nine out of 10 adult Kentuckians favor its goals, the president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky noted after the law passed its final court test.

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9:21pm

Sun July 1, 2012
Health and Welfare

Lexington Officials to Announce Fireworks Decision Monday

The intense heat continues to be a factor as Kentuckians prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July.  The extremely dry conditions could test a relatively new state law on fireworks.  The state legislature opened the door to flying fireworks last year.  The list of approved fireworks grew.  Last summer found relatively cool and damp conditions in many communities.  This week’s possibility of a tinderbox may cause some communities to postpone or cancel shows.  It’s already happened in a few central Kentucky towns.  State Fire Marshall Bill Swope says some local governments have made modifications.

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11:53am

Sun July 1, 2012
Health and Welfare

New Kentucky Medicaid Commissioner Appointed

In the face of serious turmoil caused by the move to managed care for Kentucky's poor and disabled, a new Medicaid commissioner has been appointed. Lawrence Kissner starts his new job July 1. Gov. Steve Beshear acknowledged the privatized system, now run by four managed-care companies, has run into some bumps and said he feels Kissner will "ensure that the Medicaid program is more cost efficient and, most importantly, more effective in providing high quality care to the Kentuckians we serve."

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6:12pm

Thu June 28, 2012
Health and Welfare

Selling Fireworks During a Drought

While temperatures continue to heat up across Kentucky, so does anticipation regarding an annual mid-summer tradition. There are additional precautions being offered about Fourth of July activities.  Fireworks stands sit ready for Fourth of July customers all over the bluegrass region.  Amanda Dixon helps customers at one such sales tent in Lexington.  She says the blistering hot weather may keep a few patrons away during the heat of the day.  But, Dixon believes most fireworks fans will find a suitable time to set them off.

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4:44pm

Thu June 28, 2012
Health and Welfare

Health-Care Reform Law and How it Affects Kentuckians

Voting 5-4, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the federal health-care reform law, the core of which requires individuals to get health insurance or pay a fine. The decision means about 280,000 more Kentuckians will qualify for Medicaid, and about 220,000 will qualify for insurance under a state exchange where they can choose from various policies. More than 900,000 Kentuckians who were previously denied coverage for pre-existing conditions will now also be able to get coverage.

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4:34pm

Thu June 28, 2012
Health and Welfare

Supreme Court Backs Obama's Health Care Law

With a narrow 5-4 margin, the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday upheld the constitutionality of President Obama's controversial health care law. The ruling will probably impact the life of every American and will almost certainly spur Republicans to call for the law's repeal by Congress. And the decision will likely play a large role in the fall presidential race.

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3:35pm

Thu June 28, 2012
Health and Welfare

Water Supply Update

The near 100 degree temperatures coupled with no immediate chance of significant rainfall poses a threat to water supplies across the Commonwealth.  Western Kentucky is in the midst of a severe drought.  Those conditions are beginning to make their way across the state.  Bill Caldwell, with the Division of Water, says most all Kentucky community could face water supply issues.

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11:10am

Wed June 27, 2012
Health and Welfare

Kentucky Students to Receive More Fruits, Vegetables

More than 50,000 students in 125 Kentucky elementary schools will be able to eat fresh fruit and vegetables in the coming school year. The nutritious snacks will be provided as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

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10:58am

Wed June 27, 2012
Health and Welfare

Health Care on the Verge of Change

Not matter what the U.S. Supreme Court decides Thursday, President Barack Obama's health care plan already is creating changes that will permanently alter how health care is delivered. "Health care is changing in pretty fundamental ways aside from the Supreme Court and what the Supreme Court does," said Gregg Nunziata, senior director at The Advisory Board, a research and consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. Nunziata spoke Tuesday at Lexington Mayor Jim Gray's first Healthcare Economy Conference.

12:23pm

Mon June 25, 2012
Health and Welfare

Natural Gas Workers at Risk for Silicosis

There's not a lot of natural gas drilling in Kentucky, but nearby West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania have become hotbeds as the Marcellus Shale is tapped. Now, in response to a study, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are warning natural gas workers that they could be exposed to unhealthy levels of silica dust.

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12:21pm

Mon June 25, 2012
Health and Welfare

Code-a-Thon Organizations Hope to Spur Innovation

A new competition to spur innovation in the healthcare industry is happening soon in Kentucky. The Bluegrass Code-a-thon offers a $10,000 prize to the person who comes up with the best healthcare innovation in a single day. Organizers say the innovation can be anything, like a new way to share patient information or a unique smart phone application.

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8:24am

Mon June 25, 2012
Health and Welfare

Health Care Innovation

A new competition to spur innovation in the healthcare industry is happening soon in Kentucky.  The Bluegrass Code-a-thon offers a $10,000 prize to the person who comes up with the best healthcare innovation in a single day. Organizers say the innovation can be anything, like a new way to share patient information or a unique smart phone application.

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11:31am

Sun June 24, 2012
Health and Welfare

KY Families to Receive Health Insurance Rebates

About 134,000 families in Kentucky will get money back from their health insurance companies this summer. The families, representing about 249,000 people, will get a total of $15.3 million in rebates, which averages out to about $114 for each family. The returns are the result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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11:23am

Sun June 24, 2012
Health and Welfare

Hospice of the Bluegrass Involved in Business Deals

The non-profit Hospice of the Bluegrass has spent more than $1.82 million since 2005 on business deals with several of its board members and the spouses of its executives. Ethics experts say such insider deals are legal, but because they create potential conflicts of interest, they should be handled carefully, if done at all. The Lexington-based Hospice provides care for hundreds of terminally ill patients and their families in a 32-county region. Its 2010 income of $66.6 million came from public and private sources, including Medicare and charitable donations.

8:34am

Fri June 22, 2012
Health and Welfare

Whooping Cough Cases on the Rise

Pertussis, a disease better known as whooping cough because of the severe coughing fits it causes, is making a resurgence in Kentucky, with recent outbreaks in central and northern parts of the state. The bacterial disease particularly affects infants and older children, who are required to receive the five-dose vaccine before entering sixth grade. But the outbreaks have state and local health officials urging "boosters" — immunizations for children and adults 11 and older.

8:34pm

Thu June 21, 2012
Health and Welfare

Graphic Labels Easier to Remember

Study participants looked at these two images while researchers assessed how effectively they were viewed. Graphic by Penn Medicine.

Graphic warning labels on cigarette packages can help smokers remember the message and the health risks associated with smoking, a study has found. Researchers asked 200 smokers to look at either a text-only label advertisement — which is similar to warnings that have been on cigarette packages since 1985 — or a graphic warning label showing a hospitalized patient on a ventilator along with a written warning — which has been proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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8:29pm

Thu June 21, 2012
Health and Welfare

Community Health Centers Receive Grants

Kentucky has received $3.7 million in grants to expand six community health centers, part of an effort to improve access to primary care. The federal funds were distributed through the Affordable Care Act. Centers that will receive funds include Cumberland Family Medical Center in Burkesville ($608,333); Grace Community Health Center, Inc. in Gray ($650,000); Community Health Centers of Western Kentucky, Inc. based in Greenville ($599,055); Health Help, Inc. in McKee ($650,000); Sterling Health Solutions, Inc. in Mount Sterling ($650,000); and Mountain Comprehensive Care Center in Whitesburg ($541,667).

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8:24pm

Thu June 21, 2012
Health and Welfare

Louisville Region Open to Private Medicaid Operators

The process of opening the Louisville area to Medicaid competition is underway. Passport Health Plan has run Medicaid in the area for 15 years, but the state has been ordered by the federal government to allow at least one more private operator to do business in the region.

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12:04pm

Thu June 21, 2012
Health and Welfare

Judge Rules on Coventry Cares Contract Dispute

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Coventry Cares must continue its contract with Appalachian Regional Healthcare through Nov. 1 to meet the medical needs of 25,000 Eastern Kentucky Medicaid patients. ARH operates eight hospitals and other health clinics in the region. Coventry is one of three companies the state hired Nov. 1 to manage care for the 560,000 Kentuckians enrolled in the federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled.

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