Kentucky Press News Service
FRANKFORT – Kentucky has been chosen as one of only seven states to participate in the National Governor Association’s Health Workforce Policy Academy beginning this month in Washington, D.C.
The academy is designed to help states develop and implement statewide plans for their health care workforce with the goal of improving the quality of health care and controlling its cost.
“The health care workforce is crucial to improving the quality and efficiency of health care, and we must prepare them for the changes occurring in the health care environment,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement. “Kentucky looks forward to working with other states as we implement our health workforce action plan.”
In addition to Kentucky, states participating in the Building a Transformed Health Care Workforce: Moving from Planning to Implementation policy academy are Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. The process is designed to assist states with creating a roadmap for putting in place health workforce policies that support governors’ broad statewide goals.
Topics discussed will include: addressing workforce shortages, strategies for collecting and analyzing data, new delivery models for services, as well as sessions on primary care, oral health and behavioral health.
Kentucky has been hailed as a national model for its implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of Medicaid and the establishment kynect, Kentucky’s state-based health benefit exchange. Since Oct. 1, 2013, more than 413,000 individuals have successfully enrolled in health care coverage through kynect.
In an effort to build upon that success, Beshear launched kyhealthnow, which provides a detailed blueprint of the state’s future health and well-being, laying out seven major goals and targeted means of addressing each one. Specifically, the program seeks to:
Reduce Kentucky’s rate of uninsured individuals to less than 5 percent.
Reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate by 10 percent.
Reduce the rate of obesity among Kentuckians by 10 percent.
Reduce Kentucky cancer deaths by 10 percent.
Reduce cardiovascular deaths by 10 percent.
Reduce the percentage of children with untreated dental decay by 25 percent, and increase adult dental visits by 10 percent.
Reduce deaths from drug overdose by 25 percent, and reduce the average number of poor mental health days of Kentuckians by 25 percent.
“Participating in this prestigious policy academy will help us ensure that we continue to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded to Kentucky in this new era of health care,” Audrey Tayse Haynes, Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said in a news release.
“We look forward to learning about how to foster a well-trained, flexible workforce that can provide access to quality care for all Kentuckians.”
Angela McGuire, a community health worker with Kentucky Homeplace, coordinates diabetes self-management education classes in Lawrence and Martin Counties.
Hazard, Ky. (April 18, 2014) – Since last summer, a group of 23 Lawrence and Martin Countians who have diabetes have been meeting at the Lawrence County Community Center and Lawrence County Extension Office with a registered nurse and their local community health worker (CHW), Angela McGuire, to learn how to improve diabetes outcomes.
This is part of a larger initiative spanning 25 rural Kentucky Counties. It is known as the Improving Diabetes Outcomes (I DO) Study, which operates with financial support in the form of a $150,000 gift from the Anthem Foundation.
“At our meetings everyone has the opportunity to receive information to help them take better care of themselves, and they also get opportunities for one-on-one education with an RN,” said McGuire, a Lawrence County native who has been a CHW with Kentucky Homeplace for five years.
“Self-management education and follow-up home visits by local community health workers is making a difference,” said Deb Moessner, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky. “Participants have increased their knowledge on everything from diabetic foot care, to reading food labels, to communicating better with their doctor about lab results and a host of other self-management techniques.”
In Lawrence County the prevalence rate for diabetes is 14.5 percent, according to the most recent county-level data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is more than double the national average of 6.9 percent and significantly more than the state average of 10.8 percent.
Martin County’s rate is 12.3 percent.
“Diabetes is a chronic condition that has tremendous potential for complications,” said William Mace Baker, RN, director of Kentucky Homeplace, who taught the I DO classes to participants all across the Commonwealth.
Kentucky Press News Service
FRANKFORT – Calling the measure a big win for efforts to reduce tobacco use in the state and particularly among young people, Gov. Steve Beshear signed Senate Bill 109 into law, banning the sale of all types of e-cigarettes to minors.
The governor had specifically urged legislators to pass the bill during his State of the Commonwealth in January, and identified the effort as a key part of his legislative agenda.
“We have the highest rates of youth smoking in the country,” Beshear said in a statement. “And we know that if we can keep our children from trying cigarettes – including e-cigarettes – before the age of 18, they are significantly less likely to become smokers later in life.
I commend the General Assembly for passing this important bill.”
SB109 prohibits the sales of all types of e-cigarettes to minors, regardless of whether the devices use nicotine. Food and Drug Administration testing has found that a number of e-cigarettes sold as “nicotine-free” actually contained the drug, and the largely unregulated nature of e-cigarette products at present creates enforcement issues around youth access for state agencies, retailers, school districts and parents.
The effects of SB109 are especially important now. Between 2011 and 2012, the percentage of all youth in grades 6 to 12 who had tried e-cigarettes doubled, with e-cigarettes being increasingly marketed to minors.
The vast majority of youth who have used e-cigarettes have also smoked conventional cigarettes.
The goal to reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate by 10 percent over the next five years is one goal of Beshear’s recently created initiative, kyhealthnow, which aims to reduce Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits through goals and strategies related to seven areas that include obesity, cancer and health insurance.
The initiative’s oversight team consists of cabinet secretaries and key state agency officials, and is chaired by Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson.
“Kentucky has a special incentive to enforce strong restrictions on minor access to tobacco products, given our high rates of smoking both among teens and adults,” Abramson said in a news release. “We hope this bill will prevent our young Kentuckians from trying e-cigarettes and from moving on to traditional cigarettes as a result.
One of the kyhealthnow initiative’s key priorities is to change the state’s culture so that smoking of any kind among young people is not tolerated.”
Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, vice chair of the kyhealthnow group, agreed.
“Smoking is the single biggest health challenge we face in Kentucky. With every step we take to reduce the rate of smoking, we are building a healthier state,” she said in the release.
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