Tag Archives: kentucky

Reporter shares insights on covering cuts to Medicaid dental coverage

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Phil King via Flickr

In a recent story for the Lexington Herald-Leader, reporter Will Wright offered a look at the human toll of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s July decision to cut dental and vision benefits for about 460,000 state Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Republican governor announced the cuts after a federal judge blocked his plan to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program by requiring recipients to work or volunteer and pay monthly benefits. Continue reading

Cut in Kentucky’s Medicaid dental benefits creates chaos for patients, providers

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s decision this month to cut dental and vision benefits for about 460,000 state Medicaid beneficiaries is taking a toll on providers and patients in the state.

Since the Republican governor made his announcement in early July, Jessica Clark-Boyd, who is the office manager for Healthy Smiles, a dental practice in Prestonsburg, has had to reschedule dozens of patient appointments for next month in hopes the benefits eventually will be restored. Continue reading

Looking at the people behind the Kentucky insurance numbers

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, has been AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curated related material at healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Image by pds209 via flickr.

Image by pds209 via flickr.

Kentucky has gotten a lot of attention for the largely unexpected success of its health insurance exchange.

The Washington Post’s Stephanie McCrummen has looked at another aspect of the Kentucky story: Who is getting covered and what is that going to mean?

Her first feature was published Nov. 23 (when most of us were focused on the final week of the “tech surge” to fix HealthCare.gov). She followed up in February. McCrummen looked at the faces behind the numbers – and asked questions about the numbers.

Her stories took her to Breathitt County in the foothills of Appalachia, one of the poorest and unhealthiest counties in the U.S with high rates of diabetes and heart disease. She focused on Courtney Lively, who is a human link between being covered and not being covered. Lively works at a clinic near a fast food joint, helping people get coverage, some for the first time. Among those walking through her office door were “cashiers from the IGA grocery, clerks from the dollar store, workers from the lock factory, call-center agents, laid-off coal miners, KFC cooks, Chinese green-card holders in town to teach Appalachian students.”

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Ky. program a model for improving rural access

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

As part of his series on rural health, the Wisconsin State Journal‘s David Wahlberg traveled down to Appalachian Kentucky to see how state-funded “navigators” had helped improve access to health care in the region with the lowest life expectancy in the nation. There, they help guide the rural poor through the byzantine system and toward free or low-cost care. They’re part of a program called Kentucky Homeplace.

…lay workers live in the communities they serve, which includes most of Appalachian Kentucky. The workers, who receive basic medical training and earn about $25,000 a year, make home visits and address a variety of needs, such as finding low-cost prescription drugs, arranging transportation to doctor’s offices and helping patients follow up on medical tests.
They also make sure homes have heat and running water — and people have food and clothing.

The lay workers get 40 hours of training, and specialize in navigating the local culture and translating medical terminology into words and concepts the locals find more familiar. Their primary role is helping residents find more affordable prescription drugs. According to one of Wahlberg’s sources, “The program, which operates on $2 million in state money a year, helped clients get $28 million worth of free or discounted medications last year.”

The program, started in 1994, “has linked tens of thousands of rural Kentuckians with medical, social and environmental services they otherwise might have done without,” according to the National Rural Health Association, which named Kentucky Homeplace its outstanding rural health program of the year in 2008.

Using public records to track elder abuse

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Lexington Herald-Leader‘s new series, Voiceless & Vulnerable, looks at nursing home abuse in the state. In the investigation (how they did it), the reporters focused on the eight serious nursing home complaints (about 7.5 percent of the total) from between 2006 and 2009 which the state attorney general has taken an unusually long time to resolve. They’ve been pending for an average of 19 months, and officials say each unresolved case can be blamed on unique factors and not on systemic issues.

In addition, investigators’ high case loads, staffing shortages and coordination with other law enforcement agencies have slowed some investigations, said (Shelley Johnson, spokeswoman for the state AG). Other factors include high turnover of nursing home staff and difficulty finding witnesses.

Overall, few such cases are prosecuted, and the ones that do go to court don’t often result in heavy sentences.

In addition to a discussion of how other states are fighting elder abuse (sidebar), the Herald-Leader package also includes graphics about the investigation process and how to report abuse, and a searchable database of serious nursing home complaints.