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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
By Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald-Leader
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.
The CEO of Kentucky’s largest private Medicaid operator says massive financial losses and bad data are to blame for the problems with managed cared in Kentucky. For weeks, CoventryCares has sought to terminate or revise its contracts with more than a dozen healthcare providers so the company would pay lower reimbursement rates when doctors treat Medicaid patients. And in a meeting before the interim joint Health and Welfare Committee today, CEO Michael Murphy said his company's actions were motivated by losses.
Kentucky lawmakers will get their first chance tomorrow to ask a private Medicaid operator why it’s having so much trouble negotiating contracts with healthcare providers. The CEO of CoventryCares will speak to lawmakers at a meeting of the Interim Joint Health and Welfare Committee. Coventry has been fighting with the Eastern Kentucky hospital network Appalachian Regional Healthcare over reimbursement rates and a new contract.
A Kentucky physician has been chosen to head the American Medical Association. Dr. Ardis Hoven of Lexington, an infectious-disease specialist, ran unopposed and will be the AMA's 168th president and the third woman to hold the position. "The honor here is that I've been given a large responsibility, of which I'm very aware," she said. "We have the opportunity to take medicine, to take health care, to a better place."
A resource guide and school curriculum are the latest efforts to expand farm-to-school programs in Kentucky. With fewer than 30 percent of Kentuckians consuming the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables every day, farm to school is a “win-win for students, school food service, farmers and local economies,” said Elaine Russell, coordinator for Kentucky Obesity Prevention Programand chairwoman of the Kentucky Farm-to-School Task Force.
The dispute between an Eastern Kentucky hospital chain and private Medicaid operators has lawyers arguing distance versus drive time. Under state regulations, a private Medicaid operator cannot sign up a patient unless it has a doctor or hospital within 60 miles of that patient's home. But that distance is measured as the crow flies and the state doesn't take into account narrow and winding Appalachian roads. For many patients, it may be faster to visit a doctor that's 70 miles away than it is to visit one that's 50 miles away.
If you're looking for a sugary candy energy rush, look somewhere other than the vending machines at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. The organization has changed the dozen or so vending machines around its area campuses to sell only food and drink that meet strict nutritional guidelines. And it's encouraging and willing to assist area businesses in doing the same.
The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky has released a new online directory of community groups that could provide support for patients and their families. The foundation lists more than 140 organizations in the directory. Combined, they reach all of Kentucky's 120 counties. The groups aren't healthcare providers, but they can give guidance, referrals and emotional support.
Frankfort - Attorney General Jack Conway Wednesday announced that he has recovered another $7 million on behalf of the Kentucky Medicaid program following a settlement with the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. This is the latest in a number of settlements in so-called Average Wholesale Price lawsuits filed by the office of the attorney general against 47 of the nation's largest pharmaceutical companies.
A just released document called ‘A Community Guide to Reducing Obesity’ details local projects in 17 areas of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Obesity Prevention Program Coordinator, Elaine Russell says officials hope the guide will ‘jumpstart’ efforts in other communities. She says, in one central Kentucky town, a path was mowed for a walking trail, becoming what she calls a ‘traveling trail.’
State officials are reminding citizens across the commonwealth to be vigilant in efforts to reduce elder abuse. The main message is to immediately report suspected abuse or neglect. Recent research indicates as few as one in 24 cases of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are reported. Steven Fisher, manager of the Adult Safety Branch says it is ‘largely a hidden problem.’ The state received more than 61 thousand reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people 60 and above in fiscal year 2011. Signs of neglect include obvious malnutrition, hoarding, and bedsores. Friday marks the seventh annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Frankfort – The annual compliance report on public water systems prepared by the Kentucky Division of Water indicates violations involving contaminants and treatment dropped by 257 from 2010 to 2011. The report, required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, lists Kentucky’s 461 public water systems and any violations imposed in the previous calendar year. The report shows that maximum contaminant level and treatment violations decreased from 116 in 2010 to 96 in 2011, according to a state news release.
A meeting this afternoon at Eastern Kentucky University will include an update on Chemical Weapons Destruction at the Bluegrass Army Depot. Work continues on the chemical agent destruction pilot plant on the depot grounds in Madison County. The meeting of the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission and Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board gets underway at 1:30 in E-K-U’s Perkins Building.
A Kentucky law firm that specializes in nursing home abuse cases is pushing back on nursing home company Extendicare’s claim that the state’s legal environment is causing it to pull back its operation. Several weeks ago, Extendicare announced its plans to lease its Kentucky properties to an outside company. The company said the decision was due to what they called “a hostile legal environment” where lawyers target the industry in hopes of big settlements.
Legislation passed during the 2012 General Assembly regular session will help keep patients and employees safer in Kentucky's emergency rooms. Senate Bill 58 was signed into law April 11 by Gov. Steve Beshear and takes affect July 12. A key point of the law is a police officer now will not have to witness an assault in an ER to place an individual under arrest.
A directory that lists all the local groups working on health-related issues in the state has been released by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. It identifies 143 groups — at least one in each county — and lists the primary contact person at each location.
A continued contract dispute between an Eastern Kentucky hospital network and the largest private Medicaid operator in the state is leading to confusion in the region. CoventryCares and Appalachian Region Healthcare are locked in a legal dispute over a new contract, with another court hearing scheduled for tomorrow.
Four former secretaries of heath and agriculture and the Bipartisan Policy Center have released a lengthy report aimed at the nation's obesity epidemic. With 26 recommendations, the report promotes public and private sectors working together to create healthy families, schools, workplaces and communities.
By 2015, the Walt Disney Co. will require advertising that targets kids and families to be in line with federal nutrition guidelines that promote eating fruit and vegetables; limiting calories; and reducing fat, sodium and sugar. The Disney Channel, its sisters (Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney) and Disney-owned online sites will follow suit.
More than a hundred people have volunteered to join a brand new commission on homelessness in Lexington. Members of the Mayor’s Commission are expected to be named this month. Laura Connell with the Lexington Rescue Mission hopes homeless people will have a significant voice on the commission.
Though negotiations between Appalachian Regional Healthcare and Coventry Cares appear to be futile, the state is taking steps to make sure there won't be an interruption in care for the Medicaid recipients who will be affected by the impasse. "The cabinet will assure the judge that, in the event that a notice is received from Coventry that ARH will not be in their network as of July 1, members will be able to call the Department for Medicaid Services to switch" to another managed-care organization, said Jill Midkiff, spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the number of babies born in the U.S. going through opiate withdrawal has tripled over the past ten years. It follows a trend of skyrocketing prescription drug abuse.
Passport Health Plan has improved significantly since a 2010 audit uncovered wasteful spending and other problems, a new audit has concluded. The managed care organization that cares for Medicaid recipients in Jefferson and 15 surrounding counties "has made significant improvements in accountability and financial record-keeping," a press release from Audrey Tayse Haynes, the new secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. "Patient satisfaction with the health care provider remains high," she states.
With the end of school comes the opportunity for more outdoor play for many Kentucky children and youth. So, the possibility of incurring a head injury is very real during these times of increased activity. Robert McCool with the University of Kentucky’s Injury Prevention Center says there’s been increased interest in reducing traumatic brain injuries. “There’s also a lot of athletic play in the summer both in organized sports for children and youth and in un-organized pick up football games and so forth..and head injuries is a topic that’s getting a lot of attention and it should,” said McCool.
An influential federal panel says testing healthy men's prostate-specific antigen levels to detect prostate cancer does more harm than good. The PSA test can lead to unnecessary biopsies for men who turn out to be cancer-free. Those biopsies can also lead to men being treated for cancers that are so slow-growing (a characteristic of most prostate cancers) that they didn't need to be detected. An estimated 1,000 to 1,300 men die annually from complications associated with treatments that are initiated because of PSA screening, reports Alice Park for Time magazine. Moreover, treating harmless prostate tumors increases the chances of making men impotent or incontinent.