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Congratulations to Diane Martin, Lab Director for 40 years of service at TRMC!!!

Huge milestone!!! — CEO Greg Kiser


Legalizing pot all over U.S. could generate $28 billion in federal, state and local taxes, says study


Legalizing marijuana in the U.S. could "generate up to $28 billion in tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments, including $7 billion in federal revenue: $5.5 billion from business taxes and $1.5 billion from income and payroll taxes," says a study by the Tax Foundation.

"A federal tax of $23 per pound of product, similar to the federal tax on tobacco, could generate $500 million per year. Alternatively, a 10 percent sales surtax could generate $5.3 billion per year, with higher tax rates collecting proportionately more." 

In states that have legalized marijuana revenue collections have exceeded initial estimates, says the study. Colorado, which anticipated $70 million in marijuana tax collections per year, will likely exceed $140 million this year. In Washington, sales are averaging more than $2 million a day with revenue potentially reaching $270 million per year. "If all states legalized and taxed marijuana, states could collectively expect to raise between $5 billion and $18 billion per year."

The study points out that large numbers of people are using marijuana, regardless of whether or not it is legal, Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. More than "13 percent of Americans 12 and older—35 million people—used marijuana in 2014. And 4.2 million of them met criteria for substance abuse or dependence," according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health. "We're already paying the social cost of marijuana abuse, in other words. Increased tax revenues could help offset those costs."

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 5/17/2016 10:00:00 AM


A judge on Wednesday ordered records unsealed in a case in which Kentucky alleged that improper marketing of the powerful painkiller OxyContin fueled a tide of addiction and death.

The maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, agreed in December to pay the state $24 million to settle the lawsuit.

The settlement included a provision for many records from the legal fight to be destroyed, but some remain sealed in Pike County, where the state filed suit.

Those records include a sworn statement from Dr. Richard Sackler, a former Purdue Pharma president whose family controls the privately held company, according to a digital publication called STAT.

STAT, which is based in Boston and reports on life sciences and medicine, said in a news release that Sackler is believed to be the only member of the family questioned under oath about OxyContin marketing.

STAT sought a court order opening access to the records.

It said the documents are believed to contain new information on what Purdue Pharma executives knew about the addictive properties of OxyContin, a type of painkiller known as an opioid.

The state lawsuit accused Purdue Pharma of misrepresenting how easy it is to get hooked on OxyContin.

The company did not admit wrongdoing as part of the $24 million settlement.

Pike Circuit Judge Steven D. Combs on Wednesday granted STAT’s request to unseal documents in the case, saying the public’s right to the information outweighed Purdue Pharma’s objections.

The court “sees no higher value than the public (via the media) having access to these discovery materials so that the public can see the facts for themselves,” Combs wrote.

Combs said the documents would be made public in 32 days. However, he said his decision will be put on hold if it is appealed.

An attorney for Purdue Pharma said the company would appeal Comb’s order, STAT reported.

STAT issued a statement applauding Combs’ ruling.

“The national opioid epidemic is killing 30,000 people a year, and we are pleased that the court moved so swiftly to bring to light records that can inform the public’s understanding of Purdue’s role in this crisis,” said Rick Berke, executive editor of the publication.

By Bill Estep
Lexington Herald-Leader

 SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2016

Junction City buys Air Evac memberships for everyone in town

“You never know what can happen,” Phillip Kirk, of Inez who signed up for a membership with the Air-Evac, in Inez said. “I've had two brothers-in-law that had serious accidents, and it cost over $20,000.”

Medical helicopters are especially important to rural Kentucky because they get people to the medical care they need quickly, but this service comes at a cost that many can't afford, Miranda Combs reports for WKYT.

Air Evac Program Director Donald Hare told WKYT that "the average cost of a flight is around $32,000 and insurance pays, on average, $8,000 and $12,000 of that cost," Combs writes.

"About 14 to 16 percent of our flights are people with no insurance whatsoever and don't have the ability to pay for that flight," Hare said, noting that they try to work with people to set up a payment plan in this situation.

Jim Douglas, the mayor of Junction City, told Combs that his city council has decided to buy memberships with Air Evac Lifeteam, which has a hub in the Danville Airport, for everyone in the city to cover them if they need to use the service. He said more than 60 people were flown out of Boyle County on a medical helicopter last year.

"It could be a lifesaving thing," Douglas told Combs, and said it will "cost the city just under $12,000," Combs writes. And while he said he fully expected some people to use the service for non-emergency reasons, he asked, "But who's to make the call? I wouldn't want to."

Michael Bentley, a paramedic, assured WKYT that most of their transfers are emergencies.

"We generally get called out to the sickest of the sick patients. We're generally not going out to 'Joe that stubbed his toe on the refrigerator at home.' Our patients are major trauma type patients or cardiac events that have happened to these patients," Bentley told WKYT.

Adam Tubbs, an EMT in Nicholas County, told Combs that medical flights were important because it takes "precious time by ground to get to an emergency call" in such a large rural county. He noted that, on average, they call for air ambulances several times a week. The Nicholas County Hospital closed more than one year ago.

The cost of these air transports has become such a problem that Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, filed a bill during the last legislative session calling for a study of air-ambulance charges. The bill passed out of the House, but did not make it out of committee in the Senate.

Posted by Melissa Patrick at 3:49 PM

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Federal study finds counties at high risk of HIV/hep C spread; 8 out of top 10 are in Eastern Kentucky, study says

Letcher County is one of the nation’s 50 most vulnerable to an outbreak of HIV or hepatitis C from intravenous drug abuse.

Yes, it’s that bad, according to a preliminary report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the nation’s 25 most vulnerable counties, 16 are in Kentucky. Wolfe County is No. 1, but there’s probably not much difference in the risk there and in Breathitt, Perry, Clay, Bell, Leslie, Knox, Floyd, Clinton and Owsley counties, which are in the nation’s top 12.

The preliminary report by the CDC has identified 220 counties in the United States as being most vulnerable to outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C among those who inject drugs in those communities, and 54 of those counties are in Kentucky. There are 3,144 counties in the United States. Most are in Appalachia, but the list includes the non-Appalachian counties of Hickman, Breckinridge, Grayson, Allen, Taylor, Boyle, Mercer, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant and Campbell.

Kentucky leads the nation in the rate of acute hepatitis C, with 4.1 cases for every 100,000 residents, more than six times the national average, according to the CDC.

“Both HIV and hepatitis C can be transmitted when people who inject drugs share their needles,” Doug Hogan, actingcommunications director for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said. “Many of Kentucky’s HCV cases are among rural youth, ages 12- 29, who have been sharing needles.”

Clark County Health Director Scott Lockard called the CDC report a “wake-up call.”

“We are potentially on the leading edge of one of the biggest public-health crises to hit our state,” Lockard told Kentucky Health News. “It will take a combined effort across sectors to prevent an HIV outbreak in the SOAR region such as the one that occurred in Scott County, Indiana,” north of Louisville.

Lockard made these comments in April after attending a Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) roundtable that focused on substance abuse and intravenous drug use in the region. More than half (56 percent) of the 220 counties identified as most vulnerable for HIV or hepatitis C were located in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“About 25 percent of our state’s population lives in these 54 counties,” Hogan said.

The CDC began this study after an unprecedented outbreak of HIV infections occurred in Scott County, Indiana, in 2014 among its intravenous drug users to see what other counties might be vulnerable to such an outbreak.

Researchers looked at all 3,143 U.S. counties and based their rankings on six variables, including: the number of overdose deaths, per-capita-income data, unemployment data, population studies, prescription opioid sales, and prescription sales for opioid treatments such as buprenorphine.

The report points out that this does not mean that HIV or hepatitis C outbreaks are inevitable in these counties, or that there is a current problem with intravenous drug users in these counties, but says that intravenous drug users in these counties are at a higher risk.

One way to slow down the spread of HIV and hepatitis C is through needle exchanges, where intravenous drug users trade dirty needles for clean ones. Needle exchanges were authorized in Kentucky under a 2015 anti-heroin law but also require local approval.

So far, only Louisville and Lexington and the counties of Boyd, Carter, Clark, Elliott, Franklin, Grant, Harrison, Jessamine, Kenton, Knox, Pendleton and Pike are either operating or have approved such programs. Of the 54 high-risk counties, only Boyd, Carter, Clark, Knox and Pike counties have operating needle exchanges.

Hogan said, “The Kentucky Department for Public Health is working closely with (the) CDC and at-risk communities to increase HIV and hepatitis C testing, and is assisting counties in their processes of establishing syringe exchange programs.”

Here’s a list of Kentucky counties and their national rankings for vulnerability to the rapid spread of HIV and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs: Wolfe, 1st; Breathitt, 3rd; Perry, 4th; Clay, 5th; Bell, 6th; Leslie, 8th; Knox, 9th; Floyd, 10th: Clinton, 11th; Owsley, 12th; Whitley, 14th; Powell, 15th; Knott, 17th; Pike, 21st; Magoffin, 23rd; Estill, 25th; Lee, 30th; Menifee, 31st; Martin, 34th; Boyle, 35th; Lawrence, 39th; Rockcastle, 40th; Harlan, 45th; McCreary, 48th; Letcher, 50th; Johnson, 53rd; Russell, 54th; Elliott, 56th; Laurel, 65th; Carroll, 67th; Taylor, 75th; Grant, 77th; Adair, 93rd; Lincoln, 97th; Wayne, 99th; and Cumberland, 101st.

The Mountain Eagle