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Local News

Affordable Care Act Will Help Expand Family Health Centers

Family Health Centers in Louisville will expand under provisions in the federal healthcare overhaul law.

The Affordable Care Act includes funding for grants to community health centers. Family Health Centers will receive $5.3 million dollars under the act to treat more patients. The bulk of the funds will be used to move an east Broadway clinic and expand it to three times its current size. A portion of the money will also be used to renovate a clinic that cares for the homeless.

The money can only be used on facility improvements, and Family Health Centers doesn’t currently have the staff to handle larger clinics and higher demand. But executive director Bill Wagner says the ACA could help with that, too.

“We’re hoping that with the combination of the insurance coverage expansions under health reform and other funding, that we can fully staff the expanded facility to see an additional 10,000 patients,” says executive director Bill Wagner. “We hope that many of the patients we currently see who are uninsured will be able to take advantage of the expansion of Medicaid coverage as well as the opportunity to purchase insurance through the exchanges.”

Wagner says demand for treatment has grown significantly over the last few years. He expects the new clinics will help take some of the burden for primary care off of emergency rooms, where many uninsured patients often go for their medical needs.

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Frankfort Local News

Poll Shows Kentuckians Support Universal Healthcare, But Not Federal Healthcare Law

A new poll shows Kentuckians are becoming increasingly aware of the commonwealth’s health issues and willing to act on them.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll is conducted annually by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The latest poll for last year was just released this week and found many Kentuckians worry about childhood obesity and depression.

The poll also found mixed results when it comes to universal health insurance. Every region found 80 percent or more of citizens favored health care for everyone. But less than 50 percent in every region said they were favorable to the health care reform law Congress passed a few years ago.

Foundation CEO Susan Zepeda says the polling shows people approve the concept, but has issues with certain parts of the law.

“I think what they’re telling us is either that they are uncomfortable with the Affordable Care Act, they’re not aware of what it contains, or they think it may have approaches that aren’t consistent with their preferable approaches to solving those access and cost problems,” she says.

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Local News

Eastern Kentucky Provider Sues to Maintain Adequate Healthcare Protection

Eastern Kentucky’s largest healthcare provider is suing the state and two major managed care operators (MCO) for failing to manage the new privatized Medicaid system.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare, which provides a majority of the healthcare services to eastern Kentucky (locations noted on map), may soon lack adequate protection against high medical costs.

Kentucky Spirit and CoventryCares, both of which are named in two separate complaints, manage Medicaid payments and are among four MCOs that handle the previously state-run system. In November, Kentucky privatized its Medicaid program despite concerns that contracts between healthcare providers and the MCOs were not in place.

Appalachian Regional alleges there are several deficiencies in the new system including delayed reimbursement payments to healthcare providers. The lawsuit challenges that the state is not fulfilling its federal duty to provide adequate coverage to the region.

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Local News

Sen. Paul Files Brief in Supreme Court Against Federal Healthcare Overhaul

Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Circuit Court’s decision that the new federal healthcare law is unconstitutional.

The deadline to submit a brief has passed and several briefs for and against the new federal healthcare law’s individual mandates have been filed. Paul was in Louisville Wednesday to discuss the brief he submitted to the Supreme Court last week.

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Local News

General Electric Expands New Healthcare Program to Louisville

General Electric is trying to create a more integrated health system in the company’s main areas of operation. This includes Louisville, where GE expects to add 1,000 employees by 2014.

“For us to continue to be competitive as a global company, as an American based company, we need to be able to tackle some of these [health] problems,” said Alan Gilbert, global government and NGO strategy director of GE’s Healthymagination.

This week GE officials announced the company will try to start new programs in Louisville and Erie, Pennsylvania. The program began in Cincinnati in 2009. It pairs local businesses with local healthcare providers and insurers. The program received $40 million in grants that helped establish the partnership, said Gilbert. The idea, he said, is to provide good healthcare and to reduce costs.

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Local News

U of L Officials Welcome Indigent Care Fund Audit

The trust that funds a portion of indigent care at University of Louisville Hospital will be audited.

U of L President James Ramsey asked for an audit of the Quality and Charity Care Trust earlier this month. The request came after the Jefferson County Attorney revealed that the trust’s board hasn’t met in over two years.

The trust manages about $30 million, which hospital officials have said is not enough to handle indigent care costs. State Auditor Adam Edelen will conduct the review, and he’ll look into whether the trust has proper oversight. County Attorney Mike O’Connell requested the management audit.

Both Ramsey and University Hospital President James Taylor say they welcome the review.

Ramsey’s statement:

“We’re pleased that Auditor Edelen has agreed to our request for a review of QCCT funds. The University of Louisville stands ready to help the auditor and his staff ensure that those tax dollars are managed wisely and continue to cover the costs of caring for the poor in our community.”

Taylor’s statement:

We welcome this review of the Quality and Charity Care Trust by Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen. QCCT is the critical financial foundation for the charity care University of Louisville Hospital | James Graham Brown Cancer Center is able to provide. Last year, charity care at our facilities exceeded 63,000 cases at a cost of $88 million, with just over a third paid for through QCCT.

QCCT is a partnership, only possible with the collaborative support of the city, state, University of Louisville and University Medical Center. We stand ready to assist the auditor in this review, to assure citizens have confidence these public dollars are used wisely.

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Local News

Women’s Political Caucus Joins Voices Against Merger

Click here for all of our reporting on this issue. 

The Metropolitan Louisville Women’s Political Caucus is now opposing the University of Louisville Hospital merger.

University Hospital is poised to merge with Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System and a division of Catholic Health Initiatives. Earlier this year, the caucus purchased ad space in the Courier-Journal to raise concerns over the future of reproductive care, since religious doctrine will be partially imposed on the merging partners.

The partners insist care will be preserved, though patients will have to go elsewhere for certain services, such as tubal ligations and to fill birth control prescriptions. But in a statement released today, the caucus says the partners have not made a convincing argument that care will be preserved or that the merger is necessary.

The caucus is encouraging Governor Steve Beshear to reject the proposal. The group joins the Kentucky Alliance, Americans United and the Courier-Journal editorial board in opposition to the merger.

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Local News

Board of Health Mulling Recommendations on Hospital Merger

The Louisville Board of Health is continuing its deliberations on the pending hospital merger.

The board held a public forum with officials from University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish/St. Mary’s Healthcare and Catholic Health Initiatives last month to clear up concerns that Catholic-led supervision would affect access and availability of care.

Some procedures will be banned at U of L Hospital, but the final details of what will and will not be allowed haven’t been determined. They’ll be written into a merger contract that will require approval from the clergy and the state and federal governments.

The Board of Health does not have veto power over the merger, but the panel plans to issue a set of recommendations to the governor that represent the public’s voice.

The board met last week to determine those recommendations. No decision was made, but board members continue to discuss their thoughts and are expected to release a statement on the merger soon. Final approval for the consolidation could come next month.

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Local News

Skeptics Continue Questioning Hospital Merger

A group that’s critical of the pending hospital merger has released another round of questions for the merging partners.

Honi Goldman leads the unnamed group. Her questions for University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Catholic Health Initiatives largely concern funding for the merger and the final management structure of the merged entity. The deal is still a work in progress, and it’s pending state approval. Goldman released the questions in a release to the media and wrote about them on Insider Louisville. She says she hopes the governor, attorney general and legislators see the questions and seek answers.

“We’re hopeful that they share our skepticism around this, because these are tax dollars at work. Tax dollars are going to be funding this merger,” she says, adding that she is not opposed to the merger.

Last week, the merging partners spoke at a Board of Health forum. They revealed that University Hospital will not be under Catholic care directives after the merger, but will rather follow a contract that is still being written.

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Local News

Hospital Representatives Answer Board of Health Questions

The principals from the pending merger between University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish & St. Mary’s Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives will appear at a Metro Board of Health forum on the 19th. In advance of that event, the board has posted the responses to an in-depth questionnaire it sent the principals asking how care will change after the merger.

You can read the responses here.